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B&Q accuses rivals of overcooking kitchen discounts

Leading DIY stores are sniping at each other after B&Q accused its rivals of misleading consumers with “yo-yo” pricing practices.

Britain’s largest home improvement chain commissioned research from an independent website showing how rivals doubled the price of some popular kitchens in the run-up to Christmas before slashing them in the sales.

This weekend, sources at rival stores hit back, accusing B&Q of pushing an agenda. They said retailers had been pursuing a “high-low” pricing strategy for “donkey’s years” and B&Q had exposed it only because it scrapped the strategy last year in favour of consistent prices.

The kitchen-compare.com survey found prices at Homebase and Wickes leapt by up to 130% in late November and early December, before tumbling again in the half-price sales.

The result was that many of the discount prices were little better than those available in the autumn.

“The high-low pricing strategy may be well known in the industry, but consumers could be paying over the odds,” said Steven Collinge, commercial director of kitchen-compare.com.

On November 11 Wickes was selling a Calgary kitchen for £4,893, but the price more than doubled to £11,296 the following week, according to the survey. It stayed high for five weeks before falling to £4,762 in the winter sale.

The survey found that a Homebase Blenheim kitchen priced at £3,994 on November 11 shot up to £8,338 the next week, before dropping to £3,177 in December.

By law, items must have been available at the higher price for 28 days before retailers can advertise them as discounted.

Homebase said: “Homebase has made no changes to the base prices on its kitchens since June 2012. We do run kitchen promotions at different times of the year, and as a result, at different periods, the price you pay will fluctuate.”

Wickes declined to comment.

B&Q said: “Whilst other retailers continue to artificially price their kitchens and bathrooms in high-low pricing, B&Q continually has every day low prices.”

Source : Kathryn Cooper – The Sunday Times
www.thetimes.co.uk

07 January 2013
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