BRIDGEPORT, CONN., DEC. 24 -- The battle for the No. 1 position in the growing electric shaver market became more intense this week as a war of words erupted between the industry's two largest firms.

Norelco Consumer Products Co. and Remington Products Inc. each say they hold the title of No. 1 in the industry, claiming the other company's sales statistics are incorrect and misleading.

Both companies are private, so their profits and sales are not made public.

The dispute began early this month when Remington, which is owned by Victor Kiam, announced it had passed Norelco in the domestic electric shaver market.

This week a full-page advertisement in The New York Times reiterated that claim, prompting Norelco to say Remington's statistics were not to be believed.

"Frankly we are disputing that," said Patrick Dinley, Norelco's vice president of sales. "Our information indicates we hold a share lead of more than 10 percentage points."

Norelco, which is based in Stamford, is owned by North American Philips, a subsidiary of NV Philips of The Netherlands. It has dominated the industry for years.

Remington has undergone a major transformation since Kiam decided he liked the product and bought the company in 1979. Kiam, the author of "Going For It! How to Succeed as an Entrepreneur" and star of Remington's television commercials, constantly touts his company's performance.

It was only a matter of time, he says, before Remington became the leader.

He also wasted no time in disputing Norelco's accusations, saying that company's statistics were inaccurate and outdated.

"Well, they're wrong in their statements," said Kiam, speaking from his New York apartment.

"The report we have indicated that we have 43.1 percent of the total market and they have less, of course. It also shows that we are really the only two major factors in the business," he said.

He said Remington still subscribes to the survey that Norelco claims makes it No. 1, but he doesn't give it too much credence.

"The Norelco report has not adjusted to the changing environment of consumer shaver purchases," he said.

Both companies said they are having excellent Christmas seasons, the industry's busiest time of year.

"We're air-shipping merchandise right now," Kiam said Wednesday. "I can't understand it because it's a day before Christmas, but we are."

The dispute shows no signs of letting up, and besides disputes over sales claims, the two firms are embroiled in an antitrust suit filed by Remington over Norelco's purchase of Schick.