J Sainsbury Delists Kimberly-Clark’s Top Brand

09 April 2003

It’s a bold – some would say suicidal – supplier that fails to toe the price-line laid down by J Sainsbury, the second largest of the UK’s supermarket autocrats. Only a US multinational of such muscle as Kimberly-Clark has the firepower to do so – and even then its victory is far from assured.

British toilet-roll aficionados, long accustomed to paying over the odds for Andrex – a soft yet strong tissue propelled to brand Valhalla by three decades of cuddly puppies – were shocked on Monday to find Sainsbury’s shelves bereft of their preferred lavatorial accoutrement.

It seems the two titans were unable to find common ground on the matter of price. K-C, which also manufactures iconic US brands Kleenex and Huggies, expressed its regret that it no longer supplies Andrex to customers of the supermarket colossus but hastened to assure them that their nether ends could still be assuaged by a visit to “all other major grocery outlets”.

Said K-C, determined in every sense to defend its bottom line: “The withdrawal of supply of this product to Sainsbury’s is the result of unsuccessful price negotiations, though new price proposals have been adopted by all our other retail and wholesale customers.”

Sainsbury’s sole comment: “We are currently in commercial discussions with Kimberly-Clark.”

Andrex, Britain's top-selling toilet issue and seventh-largest brand, has been the subject of many successful and innovative TV campaigns, its creative achievements including the first showing on UK television of a small boy, shorts around his ankles, astride a toilet whilst petting a puppy. Also the first voiceover daringly to use the kindergarten rude-word, ‘bum’.

The Andrex creative business is handled by J Walter Thompson, London.

Data sourced from: Times Online (UK); additional content by WARC staff