Inge Peacock, owner of local fashion label Lulu Tan Tan, made an urgent application to the Western Cape High Court to stop Noseweek from publishing a story about her, entitled “Fashion Victim.” Unfortunately that didn’t work out for her.
News24 had this to say:
The article, titled “Fashion Victim”, involves businesswoman Inge Peacock – creator and owner of the fashion label Lulu Tan Tan.
Peacock claimed before Judge Andre le Grange that the article was “extremely degrading and damaging” to her good name and reputation.
Le Grange said the issue involved two clashing constitutional rights –the right to freedom of expression and the right to dignity – that had to be balanced against each other.
He said South African courts had consistently ruled that freedom of speech was a right not to be overridden lightly.
We got a copy of the story, a portion of which you can read by clicking “Continue Reading” below.
Here is an extract from the Noseweek story:
Cheap Chinese imports are flooding the country and consumers are choosing to buy cheap. Clothing factories have closed down and thousands of textile workers have been retrenched. In an attempt to save the industry, the South African Clothing and Textile Workers’ Union has been making sacrifices on behalf of its members: in October, the union agreed to a 30% reduction in wages for new employees.
A Noseweek investigation, however, reveals how futile such concessions are unless major stores like Stuttafords are more discriminating about those with whom they choose to do business.
Cape Town garment factory R&R Anonymous Knitwear, is not as incognito as its name may suggest; it produces high-end apparel for nearly every major South African design and retail label. And its factory-door pricing would give the Chinese a run for their money any day. But the business is now on the verge of closure because one of their clients, Lulu TanTan’s Inge Peacock, refuses to settle their account.
Waiting: Zainab Bohardien is one of the many suppliers scammed by unscrupulous businesswoman Inge Peacock
Towards the end of 2010 Peacock commissioned Zainab Bohardien, the owner of R&R Anonymous, to produce samples for a seemingly lucrative order for Stuttafords’ 2011 winter collection. Bohardien dedicated her resources to the rather demanding commission – Peacock had been quite specific on what she expected the end products to look like.
“Certain yarns in particular colours had to be sourced, with most having to be imported. It was a relief when the various samples my staff had produced were finally accepted,” said Bohardien. (Noseweek has a copy of the acceptance documents, dated February last year, for various approved samples to be sold under Stuttafords’ Oaktree label. She also has several emails from Peacock to Bohardien regarding the order.)
After Bohardien’s workers clocked up overtime to meet the strict delivery dates, the products were delivered to Peacock on time – and in time for onward delivery to Stuttafords on various stipulated dates between April 6 and May 3, 2011.
But Inge Peacock – she, who complained to Noseweek back in 2008 that Sylvia and Stuart Ireland had failed to settle her R342 000 bill run up at Lulu TanTan in the V&A Waterfront (see “Fashion, passion and the shrink”, nose109) – just would not pay.
Bohardien began to think the whole deal was some kind of scam and that, perhaps, there’d been no order from Stuttafords. To reassure herself she drove to Stuttafords, Canal Walk, in September, five months after delivery. There, to her delight, she found her handiwork on display, but at a 50% discount as the winter season had ended. Bohardien decided to buy one of her cheapest products – on offer for R899.95 (sale price) – the same garment for which she had invoiced Peacock for R246.00 apiece.
With confirmation that her products had actually been sold on to Stuttafords, her next suspicion was that Stuttafords had failed to pay Peacock and her company. (The store had previously bought garments directly from R&R but a few years ago curtailed that relationship, telling Bohardien her prices were too high.)
It turned out that Stuttafords could not be responsible for the non-payment: Inge Peacock uses Merchant Factors’s invoice discounting service, which pays clients a percentage of the invoice value immediately upon submission of a copy of the invoice and delivery note.
Peacock – effectively acting as a wholesaler – marked-up her invoice to the department store by over 100%. (So much for Stuttafords’s complaint that Bohardien over-priced her products!)
When Bohardien initially questioned Peacock about the delayed payments, more than a month after the first delivery, she responded: “I did agree to pay 50% for the cream and army [items] and this payment would have been made on Monday had you allowed us to get there and do it without your performance in the morning…” That “performance” was a phone call from Bohardien’s assistant inquiring about the status of payment.
Peacock went on to write: “The balance of the money, as far as I am concerned, is 30 days and it would have been paid at the end of May, as this is how terms normally work for anyone and everyone unless negotiated differently up front…” She concluded her email confirming: “We owe R&R money for the orders delivered and it will be paid, but I will not be bullied or harassed into doing it and you have to take responsibility for the way you have treated us.”
While major stores bankroll Peacock’s wealthy lifestyle, she chooses to settle her own accounts only when she pleases. The promised end of May came and went without any dent being made in the total debt of R90 136.80.
And while R&R Anonymous struggles to keep its head above water, Peacock has been closing down her Lulu TanTan boutiques in several upmarket malls, leaving, in at least two instances, huge rental bills unpaid.
Noseweek has reliably learnt that attorneys at Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr have been trying to recover nearly R2 million in rent owing to the V&A Waterfront. And Peacock did a bunk when vacating her Newlands boutique – engaging a removal firm to pitch up in the dead of night to remove her stock. She is also in debt to a Canadian fabric supplier, Brian International, to the tune of R11 000 for some samples Peacock commissioned.
IT GOES ON…
Copyright © 2012 www.noseweek.co.za
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