FINANCE

Tiffany files suit against Costco for trademark infringement

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — Tiffany & Co. has filed suit against Costco Wholesale Corp., alleging alleges trademark infringement, dilution, counterfeiting, unfair competition, injury to business reputation, false and deceptive business practices and false advertising. Tiffany said it filed the suit “to prevent further sales of counterfeit diamond engagement rings and for damages associated with prior sales.”

Tiffany said that in November 2012, a customer alerted Tiffany to the sale of what was promoted on in-store signs as “Tiffany” diamond engagement rings at a Costco store in Huntington Beach, Calif. Tiffany immediately launched an investigation, and later learned that for many years, and without Tiffany’s knowledge, Costco had apparently been selling different styles of rings that it has falsely identified on in-store signage as “Tiffany.”

“We now know that there are at least hundreds if not thousands of Costco members who think they bought a Tiffany engagement ring at Costco, which they didn’t. Costco knew what it was doing when it used the Tiffany trademark to sell rings that had nothing to do with Tiffany. This is not the kind of behavior people expect from a company like Costco, and this case will shed a much needed light on this outrageous behavior,” said Jeffrey Mitchell of Dickstein Shapiro, Tiffany’s counsel in the case. “The Tiffany brand has been damaged, Costco members have been damaged, and Costco has profited from the sale of engagement rings by misrepresenting what they were.”

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OPERATIONS

Bon-Ton relaunches updated loyalty program

BY Staff Writer

Milwaukee — The Bon-Ton Stores announced that its “Your Rewards” loyalty program has been revamped and will be reintroduced beginning Feb. 15.

The new program will allow customers to begin earning rewards as soon as he or she $200 on their “Your Rewards” credit card at any of The Bon-Ton Stores seven nameplates, including Bon-Ton, Boston Store, Bergner’s, Carson’s, Elder-Beerman, Herberger’s and Younkers or online.

The new program rewards customers in a much more tangible, flexible way, giving them a $20 Rewards Card for every $200 spent. Each reward can be applied to a purchase of $50 or more, with certain exclusions, or they can be accumulated and stacked for greater savings as they are earned.

Customers will be able to use multiple Rewards Cards with their purchases, thereby “stacking” their redemption which will start at $20 off $50 and increase as rewards are earned: $40 off $100, $60 off $150, $80 off $200 and up. For cosmetics or fragrance purchases, customers will receive $10 off a $50 purchase and they can stack the rewards to save even more.

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News

Whole Foods narrows forecast despite strong Q1

BY CSA STAFF

Austin, Texas — Whole Foods Market reported that its first-quarter net income rose 24% to $146 million, exceeding expectations, on stronger revenue. But the grocer narrowed its revenue forecast and said its earnings growth may slow through the remainder of the year amid higher store-opening costs and plans to increase its selection of lower-priced products.

Total sales increased nearly 14% to $3.86 billion for the 16-week period that ended Jan. 20. Same-store sales were up 7.2% for the quarter.

Whole Foods opened 10 stores in the first quarter and has opened one store so far in the second quarter. It plans to open five additional stores in the current quarter.

The company said it recently signed 11 new leases averaging 38,800 sq. ft. in size. These stores are scheduled to open in fiscal year 2014 and beyond.

The retailer also closed on the purchase of six locations from Johnnie’s Foodmaster on Nov.30, which expands its presence in the Boston area. It is remodeling the stores and plans to reopen them under the Whole Foods Market banner in its 2013 fiscal year.

"We opened a record number of stores and delivered another quarter of strong sales and earnings growth," said Walter Robb, co-CEO of Whole Foods Market. "We are well-positioned to internally fund our expansion plans and have the pipeline and infrastructure in place for square footage growth to accelerate through 2014 and hopefully beyond."

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