An Ayrshire hardware store is to be stripped of its company branding after selling hand sanitiser for almost seven times its original price.

The Herald can reveal Inex Irvine has been expelled from the Home Hardware Direct brand for increasing the price of a number of products in high demand as the country enters lockdown.

Sales of hand sanitiser have tripled as the outbreak has spread across the UK, with worried shoppers attempting to protect themselves from the virus.

But while some companies have stopped production of their original stock to help supply those in needs, others have increased prices as hundreds take to the shelves to follow government guidance.

READ MORE: Hand sanitiser sales triple

The increases at the store on Irvine's High Street came to light after an elderly woman, who has not been named, bought a 100ml bottle of hand sanitiser for £6.99 - when it had been sold at just £1 previously.

Home Hardware Direct has said the actions of the store, which has operated under its branding for a number of years, has tarnished its reputation and brought the brand into disrepute.

Directors have now decided to cease the membership of Inex Irvine.

Chief executive Brian Ferguson told The Herald: "Their actions had a detrimental effect on the reputation of other members shops and also brought the Home Hardware brand into disrepute.

"Our shops are proud of the customer service that they offer and are very upset and angry that the Irvine shop tarnished our reputation with their actions."

Bosses confirmed they would look to strip the shop of its branded signage as soon as restrictions imposed by the government to tackle the spread of coronavirus are lifted.

Mr Ferguson added: "Having consulted with our local Trading Standards representative, we have been advised that we have acted correctly under these difficult circumstances."

READ MORE: Glasgow distillery produces hand sanitiser for health workers

However, Inex Irvine insisted it was never their intention to take advantage of the crisis, and say the issue lays with inflated wholesale prices.

A statement pinned to their door said: "We are unable to get regular stock of these products at normal prices from our normal supplier Home Hardware Scotland Ltd, and are therefore having to buy at highly inflated wholesale prices.

"We honestly do not like to do this but our lovely customers are demanding these products so we are reluctantly having to get them in."

They confirmed they would remove the stock from their shelves and avoid restocking, regardless of customer demand.

"We thought we were doing out dear customers a favour," the statement continued. "I guess they'll just have to wait till we can get these products from our normal suppliers at reasonable prices.

"Still, we are very sorry this has caused you discomfort and grievance."

The Irvine store has been taken off Home Hardware Direct's website and store locator.