Target left wearing fake cosmetics as US supplier vanishes
The mysterious US company that supplied allegedly counterfeit MAC cosmetics to Target in Australia has vanished, leaving behind a number of questions over the true source of its cheap branded make-up as well as a string of cases being fought in Australian and US courts.
Meanwhile, another player in Target's supply chain who helped source and authenticate the cosmetics has a main business selling motorcycles, scooters and related apparel. And in a further deepening of the riddle of where Target's MAC was sourced, BusinessDay can reveal its upstream supplier may have been an overnight start-up that was only incorporated as little as eight weeks before it shipped the MAC products to Australia.
Furthermore, an agent acting as a middleman for Target - and who travelled to the US to meet with suppliers - only applied to be registered as a company four months before helping to secure Target the now-suspect cosmetics.
Target is owned by Perth-based conglomerate Wesfarmers, one of Australia's biggest companies that also owns supermarket giant Coles, Kmart and hardware group Bunnings.
The developments come as Target continues to seek access to crucial documents via the courts in the US state of Texas that could prove its heavily discounted MAC make-up last year was genuine and not fake, as is claimed by MAC owner, global cosmetics giant Estee Lauder, and currently the centre of a trademark lawsuit by that company against Target.
In September last year, Target was forced to strip its shelves of MAC - Australia's biggest-selling prestige cosmetics range - after Estee Lauder claimed the make-up was fake.
Documents obtained by BusinessDay reveal that the obscure Arizona-based wholesaler called Get Your MAC On LLC has filed for a voluntary termination with the Arizona Corporation Commission.
Get Your MAC On was recently discovered by Target as the supplier to the Australian importer of its suspect MAC cosmetics.
According to filings with Arizona corporate regulators, Get Your MAC On sole director Yvonne Vitale applied 30 days ago to have her business wound up. The business, which specialised in wholesaling MAC make-up, was only incorporated in late 2011 - giving it a fleeting corporate life from creation to termination of less than 18 months.
The company's website carries the message, "Sorry business is closed", followed by a sad face symbol.
It is believed agents looking to source MAC cosmetics on behalf of Target last year flew to Arizona to meet with Get Your MAC On and were given assurances of the quality and authenticity of its MAC supply.
The cosmetics were also tested and verified by an independent lab in Corona, California, on behalf of Target. Get Your MAC On, in its corporate documents, gave its business address as a neat, modern residential house in Gilbert, Arizona, a town southeast of Phoenix and known as the "hay-shipping capital of the world" during World War I when Gilbert farmers supplied the US Army with feed for its horses.
Estee Lauder has also launched legal action against Get Your MAC On in the US courts.
As revealed by BusinessDay last month, Target believes Get Your MAC On was supplied its suspect MAC make-up by a Texas-based business called Mudd Puppy Cosmetics. Target is pursuing that company through the courts to discover who its supplier was, in an attempt to aid its defence in the lawsuit launched against it by Estee Lauder.
Documents lodged with the Secretary of State of Texas show that Mudd Puppy Cosmetics was only incorporated in late June 2012. Its MAC make-up began appearing in Target stores in Australia as early as August 2012. The Mudd Puppy website is no longer available.
The court cases - both here and in the US - are continuing.