It hasn’t been Woolworths’ finest month in retail relations. At the beginning of the month, the retailer abruptly announced it would be relieving Jupiter Drawing Room of its advertising business. Then, allegations of product counterfeiting and imitating began to emerge yesterday. Now, another small business owner has come forward and identified Woolworths as selling a knock-off of his product.
Woolworths hasn’t exactly been forthright in answering the accusations put to it, and offered the following on its Facebook page yesterday:
A number of you have asked us about the allegations made by Frankie’s Soft Drinks against Woolies.
We have not infringed any intellectual property or trademark. Retro is not a new concept. It has been a trend locally and internationally in clothing, food and packaging for some time. We have used vintage design for many years in products ranging from blouses to fudge and drinks. Flavours such as cream soda, ginger beer and cola have been widely used internationally for decades.
We thank you all for your comments. All customer feedback on this issue will be taken very seriously.
As one analyst, Jeremy Sampson, chief executive of Interbrand Sampson, said yesterday evening the longer Woolies takes to say something conclusive on the matter, the more damage is being done to the brand.
Don Todd has today discussed how he is in a similar situation to that of the family-run business, Frankie’s Olde Soft Drink Company, which is at the centre of the counterfeiting allegations.
Todd developed braai tongs with an LED light and said his lawyers are currently engaged with Woolworths on the issue:
About a month ago, it came to my attention that a couple of Woolies were selling them online and I contacted their buyer but had no joy with getting any result.
I explained to them that I had the patent and design registration on the tongs.
The retail giant has said it will only speak publicly on the issue on the Money Show, which airs on Radio 702 Talk Radio on Wednesday evening, thereby giving themselves enough time to think the matter through, one would assume.
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