Woolworths CEO responds to 'call me' ultimatum from Ubuntu Baba founder

11 January 2019 - 14:45
By Wendy Knowler
Ubuntu Baba founder Shannon McLaughlin eventually had 'a nice chat' with Woolworths CEO  Zyda Rylands after delivering an ultimatum.
Image: Ubuntu Baba Ubuntu Baba founder Shannon McLaughlin eventually had 'a nice chat' with Woolworths CEO Zyda Rylands after delivering an ultimatum.

"You have until noon on Friday January 11 to call me!" This was the ultimatum Ubuntu Baba founder Shannon McLaughlin delivered to Woolworths’ top executive last night and, with 40 minutes to go, she got a call from CEO Zyda Rylands.

McLaughlin has accused the retailer of copying her baby carrier designs and using her name on their version of the carriers, which they put on sale in their stores and online.

Although the retailer has admitted to "striking similarities" between their carriers and the Ubuntu Baba ones, apologised to her, and withdrawn theirs from sale, it has stopped short of admitting to copying.

Zyda Rylands, Woolworths SA CEO
Image: HETTY ZANTMAN Zyda Rylands, Woolworths SA CEO

An angry McLaughlin told PowerFM on Thursday night that she was very unhappy with the company’s response to her pushing it to reveal how and why those "striking similarities" came to be.

"They have sent me a YouTube link to a case study about one of their T-shirt suppliers," she said. "That’s a joke of a response to my question. If I don’t get a personal call from the CEO by noon tomorrow, I am going to post a screenshot of this letter."

On Friday, McLaughlin told TimesLIVE that she and Rylands had had "a really nice" 40-minute conversation about the issue, and the MD had agreed to consult those involved and get back to her by Wednesday.

"Their apology addresses 70% of the issue," McLaughin said. "But the remaining 30% is very important to me."