Dragon’s Den gown maker sues rival robe and wig company

The two companies are also in a legal row over whether Churchill Gowns is as eco-friendly as it claims to be

Samuel Webb
Tuesday 25 January 2022 13:56
<p>University gowns are big business </p>

University gowns are big business

A Dragon’s Den-backed clothes company that claims to make gowns from recycled plastic is suing a traditional robe maker, saying it is breaking competition law.

Churchill Gowns, which advertises its wares as manufactured from 70% recycled plastic, claims that Ede & Ravenscroft imposes unfair exclusivity deals on higher education establishments as part of a competition tribunal hearing starting on Tuesday..

London-based Ede & Ravenscroft was founded in 1689 and provides ceremonial outfits, clothing for lawyers, and graduation gowns.

Churchill Gowns, which received £60,000 of backing from Deborah Meaden on Dragons’ Den and was set up by Cambridge graduates Oliver Adkins and Ruth Nicholls, claims it has been “unable meaningfully to enter the market” because Ede & Ravenscroft has exclusive deals with universities, according to court papers seen by The Times.

The documents also state that by entering into agreements with some universities Ede & Ravenscroft has “procured the status of exclusive or near-exclusive supplier of academic dress to those universities’ students”.

The tribunal will also hear allegations that Churchill Gowns is misleading customers over the eco-credentials of its gowns.

The company’s website states: “Each graduation gown we make is made from 70% recycled polyester which is manufactured from recycled plastic waste.

“Every graduation gown contains a minimum of 550g of recycled plastic waste, which equates to at least 28 500ml plastic bottles.”

But at a preliminary hearing before the competition appeal tribunal last September, lawyers for Ede & Ravenscroft said tests on its competitor’s gowns show they “didn’t contain a single fibre made from recycled plastic bottles”.

Ede & Ravenscroft have been contacted for a comment. A spokesperson for Churchill Gowns said they are not in a position to comment whilst the tribunal is still hearing the evidence.

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