Asda was forced into a humiliating climbdown this week over a PR stunt that backfired spectacularly.

Ahead of the launch of the final Harry Potter book today (Saturday), Asda issued a release accusing publisher Bloomsbury of "holding kids to ransom" by hiking up the rsp to £17.99 compared with £12.99 for the first instalment, published in 1997.

This was a sign of "blatant profiteering", according to Asda director of general merchandise Peter Pritchard.

Bloomsbury issued a legal notice for potential defamation. It also declared that Asda would not receive its order of 500,000 copies, as the supermarket had an outstanding invoice, thought to have been for £25,000.

Asda was forced to apologise "unreservedly" to Bloomsbury, withdraw its statement and pay the bill to ensure it received its consignment of copies.