Shutting down of Ralph Lauren shops hurt Mauritius-retailers
United States Of America : 13th February 2004
The shutting down of many Mauritius based shops selling goods under the "Ralph Lauren" name, due to court action by the U.S. fashion powerhouse, will harm the Indian Ocean island's economy, retailers said on Thursday.
Over 400 Ralph Lauren outlets in Mauritius were shut after a court on January 30 granted the American designer and retailer a temporary injunction against shops using its trademark.
The U.S. firm, Polo Ralph Lauren Corp., filed two cases in the Supreme Court saying it has copyright on the Ralph Lauren trademark and "polo player on horseback" logo.
The local manufacturers and retailers argue they have legal status after the government made a mistake and allowed the registration of the trademark by a local company 12 years ago.
"There will be huge job losses if the temporary injunction is enforced fully," Ajay Beegoo, Director of Captain Tasman, one of the companies selling the garments, told Reuters.
Beegoo said that at least 7,000 jobs would be lost in factories and shops and another 10,000 people, such as packaging producers and taxi drivers, would be affected."In a small country like Mauritius, where we have a population of one million, the loss of 17,000 jobs will have negative repercussions on our local economy," Beegoo said.
The Ralph Lauren outlets are a lucrative business in Mauritius, where tourists grab everything from polo shirts to skirts at a quarter of European or U.S. prices.
According to Beegoo, the monthly turnover of the outlets totals about 250 million Mauritius rupees ($9.88 million) and their closure will result in big losses to businesses that together have invested billions of rupees.
Mauritius's foreign minister and minister of international trade, Jaya Cuttaree, agrees that the economy will suffer."I admit that it's an economic problem just like if a textile factory closed down. People will lose their jobs, but it's none of our doing," Cuttaree told Reuters. "It's up to the courts to sort this out".