Makro and Carlsberg are at loggerheads after the cash & carry giant pulled 275ml bottles of Carlsberg Export from its shelves in protest against heavy discounts on the brand in supermarkets.

Carlsberg Export had lost its equity in pubs since supermarkets slashed the price of 18 bottles to £5 in the run-up to Christmas, according to Makro. The line had been delisted to support the pub trade as part of its Love the Pub campaign, launched three months ago, it added.

“We do not think it is fair for some brands to be available in the supermarkets for less than 30p a bottle when pubs are expected to sell it for about £2.40 – eight times the price,” said Makro food buying director Allard Sjollema.

The wholesaler was advising publicans to stock brands such as San Miguel and Peroni as they had a better value perception, he revealed. “We want to work with brands that offer pubs a decent margin and positive price perception.”

Carlsberg branded the move a stunt. “We are disappointed Makro has chosen to single out our brand in what seems to be a PR stunt,” a spokesman said.

“Retail prices are set by customers, not by suppliers, and the major grocers use heavy discounts across the drinks category, including all the major premium lager brands, to drive footfall at key times.

“We cannot see how depriving pubs of the fourth-biggest premium lager brand in the on-trade, a brand that is enjoyed by quarter of a million drinkers, can be construed as support for the sector.”

Both Tesco and Asda ran the £5 promotion in October and November.

The Grocer’s Top Products survey revealed Carlsberg Export was the sixth-biggest lager brand in grocery last year, with sales of £126.7m. Carlsberg would not reveal how much business it was losing due to the delisting, but said it was continuing discussions with Makro.

The delisted pack format was for publicans, it added. Independent retailers would still be able to buy Carlsberg Export from Makro in other sizes.