Woolies in new 'copycat' row

21 October 2013 - 02:32 By NASHIRA DAVIDS and GABI MBELE

It has been a bruising few days for Woolworths.

Last week the retail giant was forced to recall 13000 pairs of summer sandals because they did not meet safety standards. And on Friday graphic designer Euodia Roets claimed Woolies had copied one of her designs. Woolworths is to meet Roets to discuss her allegation.

Roets said she had met the "buying head of homeware" for Woolworths early this year to discuss having her work sold in the group's stores. They kept some of her samples, including a hummingbird print, which she "painted from a photograph by [Ralph] W Scott".

The deal fell through but last week she found a cushion at one of the stores bearing what she says is an adaptation of her hummingbird print. "It's my belief that my designs were sent to another manufacturer and adapted. This is common in retailing. What I didn't realise was that it's also now apparently common practice," she wrote.

Brett Kaplan, managing director for clothing and general merchandise at Woolworths, said: "The use of hummingbirds is a global trend which inspired our design. Images and photographs of hummingbirds in flight are common, hence the resemblance of the designs."

He said Woolworths commissioned a Durban artist to interpret this trend last year and signed off the cushion designs in November.

Last year Frankie's Olde Soft Drink Company lodged a complaint claiming that Woolworths had plagiarised its "retro branding". The retailer later withdrew all drinks carrying the phrase "good old fashioned".