School uni­form mak­ers clash

Central Leader - - News - By Carly Tawhiao

A le­gal stoush has erupted over who can make and sell Mt Roskill Gram­mar’s new school uni­forms.

Re­tailer Uni­forms Plus is an­gry that the high school has signed an exclusive five-year deal with com­peti­tor El­iz­a­beth Michael Cor­po­rate Wear, leav­ing them out in the cold.

The Mt Roskill-based com­pany has sold the school’s uni­form to its 2000-plus pupils since 1987, but will be phased out over the next five years.

Uni­form Plus sales man­ager Amy Smith says the com­pany was ad­vised about the changes only af­ter they had or­dered large vol­umes of old ma­te­rial.

The new uni­form was al­ready be­ing pro­duced at El­iz­a­beth Michael by the time Uni­form Plus was in­formed of the change, and told it would not have the op­tion to sup­ply it.

The old se­nior uni­form is still sup­plied by Uni­forms Plus but 420 year 9 stu­dents are now wear­ing the new de­sign.

“We’ve pro­vided their uni­form for 22 years and they don’t have the cour­tesy to tell us. I think the school is treat­ing us like stu­dents,” says Ms Smith.

“The prin­ci­pal makes th­ese de­ci­sions with no knowl­edge be­cause they’ve got no com­mer­cial ex­pe­ri­ence.”

She says the com­pany has spon­sored Mt Roskill Gram­mar gen­er­ously for 10 years and es­ti­mates they will lose $250,000 be­cause of the new ar­range­ment.

Prin­ci­pal Greg Wat­son says if Uni­forms Plus wants to sell the uni­form, it needs to come to a com­mer­cial ar­range­ment with El­iz­a­beth Michael, which holds the li­cence to the de­sign.

“They are the sole sup­plier of our year 9 uni­form and it’s for any re­tail­ers in­ter­ested in sup­ply­ing the uni­form to have dis­cus­sions with El­iz­a­beth Michael.”

El­iz­a­beth Michael di­rec­tor Michael Den­nis says Uni­forms Plus is not au­tho­rised to man­u­fac­ture or sup­ply the uni­form. “We’ve spo­ken to our lawyers and it’s now in their hands.”

The Com­merce Com­mis­sion re­leased guide­lines on the sup­ply of school uni­forms in De­cem­ber, fol­low­ing nu­mer­ous com­plaints from ditched sup­pli­ers like Uni­forms Plus.

Com­mis­sion com­pe­ti­tion di­rec­tor Deborah Bat­tell says the Com­merce Act pro­hibits con­duct that re­stricts com­pe­ti­tion.

How­ever, exclusive ar­range­ments can of­ten achieve con­sis­tent qual­ity and de­sign.

“A sin­gle sup­plier may also en­sure ef­fi­ciency of pro­duc­tion which may re­sult in lower prices.”

An in­ves­ti­ga­tor at the com­mis­sion is looking into Uni­forms Plus’ com­plaint but no de­ci­sion has been made on whether there have been any breaches of the Com­merce Act.

“There have been no com­plaints from par­ents and the school en­tered the con­tract be­fore the guide­lines were re­leased.

“They were is­sued to ad­vise schools and uni­form sup­pli­ers about the act. They’re guide­lines only and not in­tended as for­mal le­gal ad­vice.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.