Uniform quality criticised by school principal

MICHELLE ROBINSON
Last updated 05:00 17/08/2012

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A school uniform retailer threatened with legal action by a South Auckland school for selling uniforms without a contract has had problems with other schools.

The Uniform Shoppe managing director Janet Igrisan said this week she had been threatened with legal action for making Manurewa High School uniforms without a tender.

It has been revealed the retailer had a similar issue with Papukura's Rosehill College a few years ago.

''They were sourcing uniforms that were in our colours etc, using our emblem improperly on it and using manufacturers which we hadn't agreed for them to use,'' Rosehill College principal Graeme Macann said.

Macann got the emblem legalised to protect its use and considered an injunction against the shop.

''We had some issues with parents complaining about the quality.

''I think it's a bit of an issue with all schools.''

Manurewa High School principal Salvatore Gargiulo said he was considering legal action against the shop for selling the school's new uniform this year. The uniform was updated for this year and a supply contract for tender went out last year - which The Uniform Shoppe unsuccessfully applied for.

Canterbury Clothing won the tender for its pricing and quality, and is contributing financially to the school.

The Uniform Shoppe was allowed to continue selling the former uniform to students in years 10 and above while the new uniform was phased in.

The problem arose when the shop started selling the new uniform.

Gargiulo said there was no point in a tender process if a uniform could then be bought from other suppliers.

He was unhappy with the quality of the older uniform supplied by The Uniform Shoppe.

''There were yellow shirts and the fabric was so thin that they were transparent.''

Igrisan received a letter this week from a legal representative of the school board threatening her with a High Court injunction if she did not stop selling the school's uniform. 

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." 

A Commerce Commission spokeswoman said it had not received a recent complaint from The Uniform Shoppe. 

"The Commission would be happy to consider the matter further and invite the Uniform Shoppe to provide supporting information. The Commission is not in a position to actively monitor compliance with the Commission's guidelines by all schools throughout New Zealand."

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She said the Commission's guidelines say that exclusive dealing does not automatically breach the Commerce Act.

"In fact, exclusive dealing arrangements can be a way of ensuring efficiency in the supply of goods and services which can result in lower costs and better quality." 

Comments on this story are now closed.

- Auckland Now

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