It's power down for battery brand Energizer, whose hard-nosed stance on promotions has left its sales trailing category leader Duracell.

Energizer posted a 27.8% slump in value sales to £55.8m [SymphonyIRI 52w/e 21 May 2011] while main rival Duracell surged ahead as sales rose 13.4% to £145.3m over the same ­period.

Energizer's fall in sales was most pronounced in the speciality battery sub-sector (which includes button cells and specialist lithium cells for use in cameras and toys), with a fall of 36.9% to £7.1m, in stark contrast to Duracell's 63.9% rise to £8.6m. It also saw sales of its alkaline batteries fall by 29.9% to £37.2m leaving it nearly £100m short of Duracell, which sold £131.2m worth of its alkaline products alone.

Energizer outperformed its rival in just one sub-­sector zinc batteries but even then it posted a 5.7% drop in sales.

A refusal to over-promote was to blame, said Nick Powell, Energizer MD for the UK and Nordic regions, claiming that 46% of battery sales are on deal, and that the average saving had risen four percentage points, to 36%.

Powell said this level of promotion was not sustainable and claimed that Energizer was prepared to sacrifice listings rather than fall into the promotional trap. "We refuse to invest in activity that will reduce value in the category," he said, stressing that Energizer's priority is long-term category growth.

To drive sales in the critical lead-up to Christmas, Energizer is launching a 'Be a Hero' on-pack promotion to raise £100,000 for the Help for Heroes charity.