Australian fashion startup Showpo is suing rival online retailer Black Swallow and a former staff member, accusing them of stealing its entire customer database of 306,000 records.
The boss of Black Swallow has today defiantly claimed the resultant publicity has seen his business go gangbusters.
According to the AFR, Showpo claims in court documents that its former graphic designer Melissa Aroutunian downloaded customer data before resigning in September.
Aroutunian then started working as a creative director for Black Swallow. Showpo, in papers submitted to the Federal Court, stated it became aware of the alleged data theft when “at least 90 customers” started receiving unsolicited promotional emails from Black Swallow from October 29.
Showpo is a successful Australian fashion startup founded by Sydneysider Jane Lu, who features at number six in the Business Insider Tech 100. Lu said last year that her company’s growth showed no signs of stopping after hitting the $25 million run rate and 35% international sales. The startup has more than 2.2 million social media followers.
Black Swallow – which sells similar products to a similar market demographic – has also been accused of marketing in a way that gives the impression that it is associated with Showpo.
Black Swallow managing director Alexander Baro told Business Insider he denies all the accusations and that his company had fielded record levels of interest after the exposure from the court case.
“I’m loving it. Sales have spiked up, traffic has never been better,” he said. “[Lu] loves her name in lights and she’s the one who instigated it all. It’s been great for me — she did me a great favour.”
When asked if Aroutunian was paid for the customer list, Baro said: “We bought her a house, three donkeys and a reindeer.”
The database, Showpo asserts, contained private information of clients, contacts, buyers, suppliers, associates, competition entrants, web users and subscribers – including records for 270,000 individual customers – but reportedly did not include credit card information.
Showpo’s email marketing provider Mailchimp has provided logs that allegedly show Aroutunian’s login being used on 9.33pm September 6 to export the customer list to her home IP address.
Showpo is seeking from the court that Aroutunian, Baro and Black Swallow destroy the customer data and that its rival cease using a stylised “W” in its marketing, which Showpo claims breaches the Competition and Consumer Act. The case resumes in February.