Halfords.com is currently selling two models from the Specialized range, the Hardrock Sport and the Rockhopper. Specialized UK stresses that the bikes are not supplied via the official UK distributor.

Specialized UK is not supplying Halfords

Specialized UK has no plans to supply Halfords now or in the future, said a Specialized spokesman.

"Any Specialized bikes bought from Halfords.com will come without the original manufacturer’s warranty. It’s buyer beware."

The bikes are "web exclusives, not available instore," says Halfords.com.

Industry commentators believe this move by Halfords is just the first salvo in a war aimed at bagging Specialized. When the UK distributor lodges a complaint, Halfords could lodge a complant of its own to the Office of Fair Trading.

Where did Halfords get the bikes? Aggressive, big-box retailers often source from abroad – importing products on the ‘grey’ market – or buy at retail prices from existing, official stockists of the brand in question and then sell at a loss.

Halfords could have also sourced via its insurance replacements business.

In 2002, Levi Strauss, the jeans maker, won a four-year court battle to stop Tesco from selling cut-price Levis it had sourced on the ‘grey market’ from outside the European Union.

An EU judge said Tesco’s practice was illegal because it did not have Levi’s permission. Levi Strauss had argued its products needed to be sold by ‘authorised retailers’ because these sort of outlets had received product training.

The US jeans company later bent to the will of the supermarkets by releasing a range of budget jeans, the Signature line.

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