Monday, November 24, 2008

L'Oreal takes MyDollarStore to High Court over illegal imports [India]

French cosmetics and toiletries giant L’Oreal has hauled discount retailer MyDollarStore to court over issues relating to intellectual property rights (IPR) and illegal imports, it is learnt. The company has filed a case against MyDollarStore in the Delhi High Court recently.
In recent times, MNCs have been upset over the move by retailers to import top global brands, claiming that this leads to loss of business opportunity, unfair competition and product cannibalisation. However, sources said hectic parleys are on between the two parties and the talks could lead to an out-of-court settlement.
MyDollarStore is a discount store chain which set up shop in 2004 and now has 47 stores across several cities. Most of the stores are located in malls and near Big Bazaar outlets. The chain plans to scale up presence across most Big Bazaar outlets. The discount store is associated with basement bargains in the US. MyDollarStore formats price products at Rs 99 and above in India, and are perceived as expensive by bargain seekers. While products are priced at $1 (approximately Rs 48.9) at a MyDollarStore outlet in the US, the same products sell at a higher rate in India owing to transportation costs and import tariffs. L’Oreal source said the company was concerned about protecting the properties of its brands, which include quality and consumer perception. “We distribute the brand in a way that ensures a certain value around it. An unplanned distribution creates confusion or leads to an unpleasant consumer experience which may work against our brand,” the source said. L’Oreal India has recorded an attractive growth rate of over 40% plus in the country, and globally it has identified India as one of its top five markets. Sources said the company fiercely guards its right to market and distribute its brands in India.
Several MNCs have invoked the Intellectual Property Rights (Imported Goods) Enforcement Rules 2007 Act to stop retailers from importing their foreign brands. Companies like Hindustan Unilever, L’Oreal, Lancome Perfumes, Oakley, Nivea and Mico have already registered several brands under notification No.47/2007 of the IPR Act with the Customs. Recently, Future Capital picked up 28% in Sankalp Retail Value Stores, a franchisee of the US-based discount format MyDollarStore. The format is expected to help scale up profit margins at Big Bazaar and is being set up as a ‘shop-in-shop’ concept. MyDollarStore outlets usually stock limited top brands like Coke and generally sell other lesser-known brands. But lately they have been stocking well-known brands, including that of L’Oreal like Garnier, etc. Big Bazaar & Food Bazaar, Reliance Retail, Spencer’s and MyDollarStore import sizeable consignments of top consumer brands and their variants from markets like Taiwan, Thailand, Gulf and the US. L’Oreal operates in India through its wholly-owned subsidiary L’Oreal India and has four divisions—consumer products, professional products, active cosmetics and luxury products.

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