Boots has been accused of selling face masks at a 500% markup.
The retailer sells 3-ply Type 1 masks online in 50 packs for £30, which works out at 60p a mask.
But its supplier – manufacturer Lyncmed Medical Group – reportedly sells them for a fraction of that figure.
The Boots price works out as a 5x mark-up, and is more than double what rival Mask Bros is selling 50 packs of three-ply face coverings.
Boots said its prices were competitive with high street rivals, and pointed out its masks were made to the EN 14683 standard offering 95% bacterial filtration, where the Mask Bros one simply said “3 ply” and were classed as “non medical”.
Boots said it has seen a surge in demand for face coverings since it was announced they would become mandatory inside shops from Friday.
As a result, sales of face masks have increased by over 650% since the Government announcement.
Frederik Filz van Reiterdank, one of the people who set up Mask Bros, said he was in talks with the Lyncmed Medical Group to purchase masks and the company sells them for a few pence each.
He and co-founder Cogan Wade have now written to the Competition and Markets Authority Chair, Lord Tyrie, asking for a full inquiry into face mask “price gouging”.
He told the Daily Star Online: “We sell exactly the same masks and yet we sell them for half the price, and we are also able to support our operations and our running costs.”
Filz van Reiterdank added: “To some extent, I do understand the large retailers – they buy in larger quantities and they need a more regular influx so they kind of have more long term contacts.
“But at the end of the day, it’s a very essential product.”
Boots said their masks were benchmarked against other retailers and among the cheapest on the high street – with Superdrug, Argos and Lloyds Pharmacy all charging similar amounts.
A spokeswoman from Boots told Mirror Money: “We currently sell a wide range of quality disposable and reusable face masks in store and on boots.com. We have benchmarked our pricing to ensure we remain fair but competitive and will continue to review this. Our masks are amongst the most affordable on the High Street.
“With the Government guidance changing on Friday, today we are offering our customers 25% off select disposable face masks, with masks costing as little as 37p per mask.”