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Firm fights US giant to stop destruction of clothes

A SMALL Irish store is taking retail giant Abercrombie & Fitch back to the courts after a judge ordered that more than 800 items of clothing seized in the store should be destroyed.

Conor Twomey (49) of McGazz -- a small clothing shop in Limerick city -- confirmed to the Irish Independent that it is appealing the outcome of a legal case that was brought against it by Abercrombie & Fitch earlier this month.

The US company, which is due to open its first Irish flagship store in Dublin tomorrow, brought the store before Limerick District Court for selling its clothes without permission.

However, the shop will fight its corner and is appealing the verdict.

McGazz opened up in Limerick in July 2011 and Conor Twomey bought clothing at Abercrombie & Fitch outlet stores in New Jersey and Pennsylvania in America.

He posted the goods to Limerick and paid excise duty and tax, before selling them at a cheaper price than the US clothing company charges here.

On June 13 last, more than 800 items of clothing, estimated to be worth up to €32,000, were seized at the McGazz shop at Cornmarket Row, Limerick, after Abercrombie & Fitch was granted a court order.

Under the 1996 Tradesmarks Act, it is illegal to sell trademarked goods from the US in Ireland unless they are licensed to be sold here and the manufacturer has given consent.

Abercrombie & Fitch only allows the sale of its clothes through stores that it owns and operates.

Judge Aeneas McCarthy ruled that the law was on the side of the US clothing giant.

But Conor Twomey, who runs the store with his brother John, said they have now instructed their solicitors to appeal the case to the Circuit Court.

"I feel very strongly about this," Mr Twomey said. "McGazz is a legitimate enterprise importing and selling legitimate product, paying all Irish taxes and duties, providing local investment and employment.

"Abercrombie & Fitch has been making substantial profits from Irish customers for many years. It should now clarify exactly how much Irish corporation tax it has ever paid, and whether those profits are retained in Ireland or repatriated elsewhere," Mr Twomey said.

"It would be ironic if it has paid a minimal amount of corporation tax to the Irish state while fully availing itself of its laws and benefits. This would be an offence to common sense and decency," he added.

A spokesperson for Abercrombie & Fitch would not comment.

Irish Independent