The department store chain Target Australia Pty Ltd, owned by Westfarmers, is now in the firing line of huge legal action after the US cosmetics giant Estee Lauder discovered fake M·A·C products being sold in store.
In addition, the firm bought out by Estee Lauder in 1998 has never granted Target the rights to sell its cosmetics range.
Sample products were acquired from the stores and taken back to the US for testing: “M·A·C Cosmetics has conducted extensive testing in our US laboratories and found that M·A·C marked products that were, until recently, being sold at Target Australia are counterfeit,” M·A·C said on its website.
“Target Australia is not an authorised retailer of M·A·C Cosmetics and we did not supply any M·A·C products to Target Australia,” continued company's statement on its Web site.
“We notified Target Australia and they have withdrawn the products from their shelves and website.”
Target Australia confirmed on its Facebook page that it is aware of Estee Lauder's legal action:
“As this matter is now the subject of legal proceedings, it would be inappropriate to comment further, however Target assures customers that it prides itself on the quality and value of its products and always seeks to find ways to bring customers a wider range at great prices," it said.
However, it defended that the M·A·C products were sourced lawfully:
"The M·A·C products supplied to Target was sourced lawfully by a domestic supplier from a legitimate M·A·C wholesaler overseas. Sourcing genuine product in this way, a process known as parallel importing, is not illegal in Australia and can result in significant savings for our customers. As a result, we can offer customers MAC products for 40 per cent less than other Australian retailers," the Australian department store chain said on Facebook.
Target, a division of Wesfarmers Limited which is one of Australia's largest listed companies, is positioned between the high-end department stores and discount department stores, with a focus on offering better value than speciality stores in the mid-market sector.
The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission was reported to have also started conducting its own investigation into the sale of counterfeit make-up at Target stores.