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Tesco loses court case but Sainsbury's
and Safeway have reason to smile

It was another action-packed week for the supermarket brands, with mixed fortunes for the nation's grocers Tesco and Sainsbury's, writes Jennifer Whitehead, in this week's round up of brand news.

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Tesco was widely-tipped to strike a blow against rip-off Britain and those precious folk at Levi Strauss who want the supermarket banned from importing cheap jeans and passing on the savings to customers.

But on Tuesday, the European Court of Justice said "non!" to Tesco, ruling that Levi's had the right to limit imports of its jeans from outside the EU. Tesco, however, has vowed to fight on, to the relief of consumers and, no doubt, both companies' lawyers.

While the Levi's/Tesco battle was a case of Goliath and Goliath, a small grocer is involved in a more David-like dispute with Marks & Spencer. Richard Jackson launched a business 15 years ago called Simply Food. Now Britain's favourite purveyor of knickers -- yes, still -- has launched M&S Simply Food shops in London. Mr Jackson is not happy. He must, however, be something of an optimist at heart as he reportedly plans to "fight this all the way".

Having a brighter week was Safeway, whose moves to regenerate its brand have paid off handsomely. As the firm seeks to muscle in on Tesco's and Marks & Spencer's dominance in fresh ready-meals, its revamped stores were reporting sales growth in the double digits. Sainsbury's also reported strong sales growth -- its best, in fact, for 10 years. The supermarket doubled its investment in its online offering 'Sainsbury's to You' to £29m, and plans to focus on direct marketing -- Reward Card cardholders have been warned.

Somerfield's marketeers also seem to be doing a good job, maybe too good a job. The chain, still waving the flag for downmarket supermarkets, revealed its marketing efforts were rather more successful than it might have liked. It has been forced to scale back its special offers after sales went up, but discounts proved too costly.

At a slightly different end of the retail scale, shoe designer Jimmy Choo -- whose wares are seen on the world's most celebrated feet -- was celebrating himself as it sold a stake in the ready-to-wear brand for £21m to venture capitalist Equinox Luxury Holdings.

From the "a brand is born" file this week, Harry Potter. Cementing his move from a paper-bound character to commodity, the opening of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone is set to be only the second film ever to gross $100m in its first five days of release. Can't wait for star Daniel Radcliffe's round of chat show appearances in 2021.

Are people brands? When you're Mick Jagger, you probably are. Sadly, despite a phenomenal PR effort including documentaries on Channel 4 and numerous broadsheet profiles, his album Goddess in the Doorway recorded desultory sales when it came out this week. Most media had the figure at less than 1,000 copies sold.

Are countries brands? The Labour government thought so in 1997, as Cool Britannia ruled the (air)waves, and the presses. Now the government has declared it dead, with Tessa Jowell, culture minister, saying it had "missed the point all along". A similar thing was said by many commentators back in 1997.

And finally, red faces at BT this week, as its internet customers struggled for two days to get online. Technical problems happen, but couldn't have been timed worse for BT, which sent out a press release trumpeting the wonders of broadband internet access on the very same day.

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