School threatens legal action over uniforms

ELLE HUNT
Last updated 05:00 16/08/2012

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A uniform retailer says she's being threatened with legal action for selling an Auckland school's uniforms without a supply contract.

Janet Igrisan, managing director of The Uniform Shoppe, this week received a letter from a legal representative of the Manurewa High School board, threatening her with a High Court injunction if she did not stop selling the school's uniform in her store.

Igrisan said she felt "bullied" by the board.

"I am the owner of a small company going up against an organisation with deep, state-funded pockets," she said.

"I wonder if this is where school bullying starts - at the top?"

"This is a sinister trend which will continue to escalate if the Commerce Commission does not step in."

The Uniform Shoppe has supplied three generations of Manurewa High School uniforms since the school opened in 1960.

Last year, Manurewa High School invited Igrisan to tender for an exclusive contract to supply its uniforms last year, in which she was asked to detail "incentive options available" to the school.

Igrisan said she did not want to pass on the extra cost to parents, who are already "held captive" by the school zoning system.

She said schools offering exclusive supply contracts to companies in exchange for monetary incentives was a growing trend within the industry.

"But it's the parents who end up paying for the deals."

Igrisan found seven items of uniform for a senior boy at Manurewa High to cost $330 from the school's exclusive supplier, and $297.70 from her own store.

"While a difference of $32.30 may not seem a lot, multiply that by the 900 or so pupils entering Years 9 and 11 each year, and that's an extra $29,070 being taken out of the South Auckland community."

Igrisan expressed disappointment that the Commerce Commission was not acting on this "anti-competitive" behaviour.

"If I must contest this threat in court I will, but it would be much more sensible for the school to comply with the Commerce Commission's guidelines and allow multiple suppliers.

"It would certainly be the best thing they could do for their families."

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- The Dominion Post

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