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Spar owner Henderson Group defends £13.50 hand sanitiser price tag amid pandemic

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Bottles of hand sanitiser being sold at the Spar Viking Lodge in Larne

Bottles of hand sanitiser being sold at the Spar Viking Lodge in Larne

Bottles of hand sanitiser being sold at the Spar Viking Lodge in Larne

The owner of Spar shops in Northern Ireland has defended selling bottles of hand sanitiser for £13.50 during the coronavirus pandemic.

It comes following an online backlash from members of the public, with some accusing the chain of profiteering amid the crisis.

One customer took to social media to post an image of a 550ml bottle of Leafree Hand Sanitiser at a Spar shop on the Cavehill Road in Belfast with a price sticker of £13.50 expressing her shock.

The same brand was pictured being sold at the Spar Viking Lodge on the Old Glenarm Road in Larne for £13.50 with a sign marking it as a "deal".

One social media user branded the hefty price tag a "disgrace".

"That's a complete stroke, how are big companies be allowed to do this? It's a disgrace. People are already struggling with money at this time," they commented.

In response to the criticism, Henderson Group, which owns Spar, defended the high price, stating the product represented "value for money" due to "unprecedented global demand".

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Bottles of hand sanitiser being sold at the Spar on the Cavehill Road in Belfast

Bottles of hand sanitiser being sold at the Spar on the Cavehill Road in Belfast

Bottles of hand sanitiser being sold at the Spar on the Cavehill Road in Belfast

During the outbreak of coronavirus, customers flocked to supermarkets, chemists and shops to buy up stocks of hand santiser, anti-bacterial wipes and toilet roll.

Shelves across Northern Ireland were pictured empty and there were even reports of hand santiser being stolen from hospitals.

In a statement to the Belfast Telegraph, a spokesperson for Henderson Group said prices across their range of hand sanitiser products start from £3.49.

"The Leafree 500ml Hand Sanitiser, which is a high quality 70% Ethanol based gel, is one of several options for shoppers to choose from in our stores," they said.

"Whilst we understand that prices currently are high due to unprecedented global demand, we are satisfied that this product represented value for money at the time it went to market.

"Current retail prices across our hand sanitiser range start from £3.49 for a 100ml gel, with more options expected over coming weeks that will offer further choice and lower price points."

Following reports of retailers across the UK increasing the prices of products at the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, the UK's competition watchdog warned sellers against "taking advantage of people" and stated those inflating prices could face prosecution.

"[The CMA] will consider any evidence that companies may have broken competition or consumer protection law, for example by charging excessive prices or making misleading claims about the efficacy of protective equipment,” it said.

“And it will take direct enforcement action in appropriate cases. In addition, the CMA will assess whether it should advise Government to consider taking direct action to regulate prices."

However, there is no suggestion Spar has broken competition or consumer protection law.

Belfast Telegraph