Australian beauty retailer Mecca triumphs in make-up war with Hourglass Cosmetics

By Becky Bargh 6-Dec-2021

Supreme Court ruled that US-based cosmetics brand had breached its contract with Jo Horgan’s beauty business

Jo Horgan, Mecca founder

Australian beauty seller Mecca has walked away triumphant from its legal battle with the US’ Hourglass Cosmetics over a breach of contract.

A Victoria Supreme Court sided with Jo Horgan’s business that the Unilever-owned cosmetics brand had acted unlawfully when it walked away from an exclusive deal with the retailer due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Hourglass Cosmetics, which has run campaigns fronted by Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, was also found to have violated terms of the deal when it went on to sell beauty products directly to customers in Australia and New Zealand.

Supreme Court Justice Michael Osborne ruled that the termination by Hourglass was “invalid and of no legal force”, reported The West Australian.

A spokesperson for Mecca said that it will “continue to stock Hourglass products both online and in-store on an exclusive basis.

“Over the past decade we’ve worked closely with Hourglass to help build it into one of the most-loved beauty brands in Australia and New Zealand, and we’re looking forward to continuing this partnership.”

Cosmetics Business has reached out to Hourglass for comment.

The fallout began in May 2020 when Hourglass’ Chief Executive, Carisa Janes, wrote to the make-up giant accusing it of breaching the terms of the contract, and saying it would be cancelling its distribution contract.

Mecca had not been able to distribute cosmetics for 28 days due to the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent government orders, which immediately terminated the deal, according to Janes’ letter.

The retailer retaliated, arguing that Hourglass had breached the agreement by selling directly to Australian and New Zealand shoppers in October 2020.

During the course of the trial in August this year, Horgan took to the stand to give evidence that Mecca had significantly helped Hourglass’ sales in the region.

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Hourglass has been ordered to pay the make-up seller’s costs and has been ordered to embark in mediation discussions for damages.

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