Britain Pays Price of Designer Mark- Ups

Article excerpt

Byline: JOHN FRASER

SHOPPERS could make major savings if British supermarkets were allowed to import cut-price designer goods from the U.S.

and the Far East, Brussels has confirmed.

An EU survey published at the weekend gives even more ammunition to store chains such as Tesco and Asda which are fighting for the right to offer bargain jeans, trainers and perfumes.

The survey found that men's clothing was 42 per cent more expensive in Europe than America, with a 49 per cent difference for women's clothing and 51 per cent for children's clothing.

Wrangler jeans were [pounds sterling]35 in the UK but [pounds sterling]12.96 in the U.S. A 200ml bottle of Calvin Klein eau de toilette was [pounds sterling]42.50 in London, but [pounds sterling]28 in New York and Hong Kong.

The report also showed huge price differences between the EU market and the U.S. and Far East for household goods.

For example, cookers, TVs and videos were half the EU price in America, and air conditioners were around one third of the price.

Tesco and Asda led the way in

selling cut-price designer brands such as Levi jeans and Versace clothes.

Tesco sold Levi 501 jeans for [pounds sterling]30 compared with the High Street price of around [pounds sterling]50.

But last year the European Court upheld the right of manufacturers of designer goods to prevent their goods being imported from outside the EU and then sold in Europe. By keeping such goods out of the European market, designer firms are able to keep prices high in Europe.

After the ruling Britain's Consumer Minister Nigel Griffiths met angry supermarket bosses, and promised to see what he could do secure a better deal for the public. This pressure on Brus-

sels lead to the EU report which has just been published. …