M&S in naming row with independent brand

M&S Apothecary row
M&S has come under fire from independent business Re:treat Apothecary.
// M&S has been asked to change the name of one of its product ranges
// Cosmetic brand Re:treat Apothecary has been in business since June 2020

High street giant Marks and Spencer has come under fire from independent organic cosmetic business Re:treat Apothecary.

The Scottish-based business put out an open letter to the retailer on its Instagram page earlier this week, after discovering a new M&S product range shares its name with the small brand.

Kathryn McIntosh has been handmaking organic, vegan, eco-conscious and natural cosmetics from her kitchen since June 2020. M&S launched its Apothecary range in 2018, adding the Retreat collection as an exclusive for Christmas 2021.

The letter saw McIntosh referring to M&S’s recent row with Aldi over the copyright for its popular Colin the Caterpillar cake, describing the retailer’s recent move as “not cool”.

“When we felt happy that we were unique, we went ahead,” the letter read. “I’m so sorry it seems that M&S haven’t done the same due diligence, checking that ‘Retreat Apothecary’ wasn’t already in use by another business.

“Maybe one of your employees did search online and found ‘Re:treat Apothecary’ but decided to go ahead anyway? Hmmm… I know we’re small, but we matter.”

Referencing the infamous caterpillar cake row, the message continued; “Remember you hit the roof when Aldi copied your Colin the Caterpillar? You even took them to court. It’s not cool is it?”

The open letter – which has been liked almost 4,000 times – also sees McIntosh asking M&S to grant a “Christmas miracle” by changing the name of its range.

“While you are still selling this, it will become impossible for our customers to find us online,” she points out. “Our customers used to be taken to our lovely little website, now they are taken to the M&S website instead.

“With no customers, we have no business. This is a real threat to Re:treat Apothecary.”

READ MORE: M&S sees 100K app downloads in 48hrs amid its 12 days of discounts

Although M&S didn’t respond to McIntosh directly, a spokesperson did give a quote to the press.

“Our popular Apothecary brand launched in 2018 and includes a range of home fragrance products in different scents including Calm, Balance and just for Christmas 2021 – Retreat,” the retailer stated. “This limited-edition offer was created independently of other retailers and is a unique product range.”

“I feel like this is a happy compromise,” McIntosh commented. “M&S pull their products in the New Year, but don’t have to admit any responsibility. Win-win, right?”

“Come January, Cuthbert and I will be watching…”

Click here to sign up to Retail Gazette’s free daily email newsletter


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here