Unilever Sues Ahold For Copying Packaging
Amsterdam, Netherlands, Unilever NV has sued Ahold NV’s Dutch unit Albert Heijn for allegedly copying the packaging of Unilever’s branded products. Unilever said that Albert Heijn had copied packaging of margarine brands Becel, Blue Band, Flora, and Croma, and also that of Lipton ice tea and Bertolli olive oil. Hans Koeleman, spokesman for Ahold, said Unilever’s suit was baseless, while Unilever spokesman Richard van der Eijk said Heijn “crossed the line,” according to published reports.
Heijn, one of Unilever’s biggest customers, had temporarily pulled Unilever products from its shelves in 2002 after Unilever refused to meet price cut demands. The case is likely to act as a precedent in future conflicts as retailers continue to rapidly grow private label businesses.
Goody’s Family Clothing Shares Drop
New York City, In response to a company warning that first-quarter earnings would be much lower than last year’s results, shares of Goody’s Family Clothing tumbled today.
Shares of the Knoxville, Tenn.-based retailer of moderately priced family clothing gave up 17.7%, or $1.94, to $9 in early morning trading on the Nasdaq, where it was the biggest percentage loser. Trading volume was more than six times its average volume over the previous three months. The company operates 358 stores mostly in the South and Midwest.
Private investment bank Avondale Partners said today it cut its rating on Goody’s to “Market Perform” from “Market Outperform” and lowered its stock price target from $13 to $11, saying, “We believe in this early part of the year it is prudent to wait for evidence of firming sales.”
Goody’s blamed bad weather, an early Easter and a tight economy for its lowered first-quarter earnings.
Wal-Mart’s Quebec Union Battle Continues
Bentonville, Ark., The United Food and Commercial Workers Canada hasn’t given up on its efforts to unionize Wal-Mart employees in Quebec, published reports say. The UFCW filed two applications for unionizing employees at a Gatineau Wal-Mart. One application was for general employees, and the other was for the workers in the location’s Tire and Lube Express shop.
The UFCW has already won union certification at a Wal-Mart store in Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec. Another location in Jonquiere was nearing unionization before Wal-Mart announced plans to shutter that store by this May.