Opinion: Asda's climbdown

<p>Another feather scalp for the boy wizard: this time, that of the world&#39;s largest retailer.<br /><br />Asda has withdrawn a PR statement in which it accused Bloomsbury of &#39;blatant profiteering&#39; and &#39;attempting to hold children to ransom by hiking up the rrp on the final Harry Potter&#39;. It has also coughed up nearly &pound;40,000 Bloomsbury said it was owed by the Wal-Mart-owned supermarket.<br /><br />And all because Bloomsbury put Asda on stop. <br /><br />What this shows is that the tactics that have successfully forced down supplier prices from clothing manufacturers and farmers do not work in the world of books. Asda can always threaten to buy their jeans or milk from another supplier, but it has discovered the hard way that Bloomsbury is the only supplier of Harry Potter.<br /><br />Asda has also discovered that publishers may have a better working knowledge of libel law than supermarkets.<br /><br />The whole episode has the whiff of a badly-conceived PR stunt by ill-briefed senior executives at Asda out of touch with the subtleties of the book world. It&#39;s certainly hard to believe that the PR release was a strategy dreamt up by the well-regarded Steph Bateson, Asda&#39;s book buyer. Certainly, it was Peter Pritchard, the director of general merchandise, who was named in the release on Sunday night.<br /><br />However, it is not all bad news for Asda. It will have the 500,000 books to hand, it will be able to satisfy its pre-orders and it has achieved immense pre-launch coverage for its every day low prices marketing proposition. Ironically, the spat may boost Asda sales.<br /><br />It will be interesting to see how the Asda/Bloomsbury relationship goes from here. Will Asda forgive and forget, or is revenge a dish best served cold?</p><p><em>To read more comment visit <a href="../blogs" title="thebookseller.com/blogs">thebookseller.com/blog.</a></em> </p>