Tiffany & Co. Doesn't Want An H&M Next Door
Sharing the Westfield Century City mall in Los Angeles with a grocery store (Gelson's) doesn't seem to bother Tiffany & Co. but the jeweler draws the line at H&M getting too close. The LA Times reveals that Tiffany has sued its landlord at the Westfield Century City shopping center saying that a planned H&M would violate the terms of its contract. Tiffany's contract with Westfield forbids retailers that are not considered to be "luxury, upscale or better by conventional retail industry standards." to use or lease certain spaces within, fronting or adjacent to the Tiffany store. The lawsuit alleges that the location of the H&M store so close to Tiffany will cause "irreparable injury to Tiffany's business reputation as a luxury retailer."
The LA Times keenly points out that in Pasadena along Colorado Boulevard, the H&M store and Tiffany are very close to each other. Also, while H&M is a low-priced retailer, the store's focus on trendy style isn't offensively downmarket. Tiffany's lawsuit seems to imply that the H&M shopper and the Tiffany shopper are such separate people that they don't mingle or that somehow a person who buys a $19 sweater instantly becomes a Tiffany undesirable. It seems an odd distinction for a brand that had spent the last couple years reaching out to the aspirational consumer and bumping up its line of silver jewelry in order to attract new customers. Certainly there is a gap between a silver necklace and a $19 sweater but these days plenty of malls and shopping centers feature both expensive stores and lower market ones reflecting today's affluent shopper who often purchases at both ends of the spectrum.