macys polo Mauritius shuts fashion outlets
The American fashion powerhouse claims that the shops have been using the trademark without permission and now wants the businesses to be closed permanently.
The local outlets however claim that they have been operating legally and say the closure of the shops will mean thousands of job losses in the tiny island.
For years, tourists have flocked to the outlets filling their suitcases with everything from polo shirts to skirts at a quarter of European or American prices.
It is a lucrative business on the island, directly employing around 7,000 people, with a monthly turnover of about $10m.
But now it seems Mauritius’s Ralph Lauren honeymoon is coming to an end.
As a result, the court has granted the US designer a temporary injunction leading to the closure of the outlets.
The local manufacturers and retailers however argue they have legal status to operate the outlets.
This is after the government allowed the registration of the trademark by a local company 12 years ago.
In 1992, the government’s customs department allowed a local company, the Aurdally Brothers, to register the Ralph Lauren trademark and logo under their name.
And the Aurdally Brothers gave permission to a company called Captain Tasman, to produce merchandise under their licence.
Director of Captain Tasman, Ajay Beegoo says it was all legal.
” Everything was done in the legal form at that time and according to the law in our country” said Mr. Beegoo
In 2000, following complaints from Ralph Lauren in the United States, the government did not renew the license and removed Ralph Lauren from the trademark register.
Since then no one, not even Polo Ralph Lauren itself, has rights over the trademark in Mauritius.
Some other manufacturers and retailers have taken advantage of the existing loophole.
Now, thousands of jobs are under threat and retailers believe that will add to the island’s growing unemployment and hurt the local economy.
” Many people will be affected, plastic bag factories, label makers, we converted villages into towns now no tourists will be going there, no one will get money” said Mr Beegoo.