Charm Wars Update

What happened with controversial communications from Pandora and Alex and Ani

In January, we brought you news of two leading charm brands seemingly asking retailers not to carry competing products. Both cases stirred stories in the consumer media (see here and here).

In Australia, Pandora reportedly warned its retailers not to carry Alex and Ani, according to local magazine Jeweller. Alex and Ani complained to the local competition authorities, but, according to an article posted last week on Jeweller, it did not get results.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has dropped its investigation into Pandora Australia’s attempt to block retailers from stocking U.S. newcomer Alex and Ani.

The ACCC issued a letter [that] read, in part: “On the basis of the information currently before us, we consider that the alleged anti-competitive conduct regarding the restrictions imposed by Pandora on retailers is unlikely to have the purpose or effect of substantially lessening competition.”

Karin Adcock, CEO of local Alex and Ani supplier House of Brands, said she was “baffled” that the ACCC was not taking further action.… “We still expect that the ACCC will review the situation as they begin to appreciate the full ramifications of Pandora’s steps to try to block the entry of Alex and Ani to the Australian market.”

Pandora sent JCK the following comment:

We in general welcome competitors who support developing the jewelry market. Together with our retailers we strive to give our consumers around the globe the best possible Pandora experience. Together we invest significant resources in building a strong branded platform. This also requires a dedicated performance, why it will not be appropriate [for retailers] to market competitors like Alex & Ani.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) have concluded that they will not pursue the matter. We are compliant with legal requirements and are happy that the authorities came to the same conclusion.

The second issue—which involved, ironically enough, Alex and Ani—may have a little more finality.

Last year, an Alex and Ani exec sent a letter to its retailers warning them not to carry products with the same “look and feel” as its brand. It gave six examples, including Luca + Danni. The latter brand’s CEO, Fred Magnanimi, subsequently complained, both to the brand and the Federal Trade Commission.

A recent letter from Alex and Ani to Magnanimi now says that the referenced language is no longer part of the company’s authorized retail agreement—seemingly putting that issue to bed. 

Alex and Ani did not respond to a request for comment.

JCK News Director