Which? Gardening investigative report reveals product labelling cover-up at leading retailers
We’ve recently discovered that Qualcast and Spear & Jackson have licensed their brand names to the Home Retail Group, parent company of Argos and Homebase. This means that Argos and Homebase can use the Qualcast and Spear & Jackson brand names on their own-brand products.
In other words, if you buy eg a Qualcast mower at one of these stores it may not be made by Qualcast.
Spot the difference
Not only that, but the companies that own the two brands – Bosch (Qualcast) and the Sheffield-based Spear & Jackson – continue to make and sell their own products through Argos and Homebase.
Bosch told us: ‘Our Qualcast cylinder lawnmowers are distinguishable by different packaging, length of warranty period and after-sales service telephone numbers.’
However the products look so similar that we think it’s almost impossible to distinguish between a Qualcast product and an own-brand product bearing the Qualcast name.
How to know what you’re buying
So how can you know whether you’re buying a genuine Qualcast or Spear & Jackson product – or an Argos or Homebase own brand product that looks remarkably similar? Jessica O’ Leary, Which? Gardening’s business researcher, has the following advice.
‘The only Qualcast mowers that are manufactured by Bosch (Qualcast) are the following cylinder mowers: the Qualcast Concorde 32, the Qualcast Elan 32 and Panther 30 and Panther 380 mowers, says Jess. ‘Anything else on sale at Argos or Homebase are their own brand products.’
The products made for Argos and Homebase are listed at http://www.qualcast.co.uk/HRG/
Spear & Jackson-labelled products
As far as Spear & Jackson products are concerned, Jess advises:
‘All petrol or electric tools bearing the Spear & Jackson logos on sale at Argos or Homebase are own-brand products – ie they are not made by Spear & Jackson.’
‘However all Spear & Jackson hand tools on sale at these stores are made by Spear & Jackson.’
Join the debate on Which? Conversation
Do you feel that this practice could mislead you into buying one of these ‘branded’ products? Do you care? Maybe you’ve bought one of these products, only to discover later it’s not what you thought it was. Whatever your experience, tell us on Which? Conversation.
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This story appears in the November issue of Which? Gardening. For a trial subscription, go to http://www.which.co.uk/publications/magazines/which-gardening/