DFS, Lotte set to square off in court - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

DFS, Lotte set to square off in court

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by Ken Quintanilla

Guam - DFS and Lotte are scheduled to square off in the Superior Court of Guam tomorrow over DFS's request for a temporary restraining order preventing Lotte from moving into the airport. And until they're told otherwise, Lotte is still continuing its move this week.

Considering that it had already started the transition into the airport this past Saturday, Lotte Duty Free senior advisor and transition director Gerry Perez says he was caught off guard a temporary restraining order filed by DFS late Monday afternoon. "You can imagine how surprised we were," he said.

In fact, Perez says Lotte was going off the transition strategy provided by DFS following their recommendations in order to not be too disruptive. "So we were going on the premise that we're finally able to work together closely as shared tenants at the moment in the interest of serving the public without disruption," he said.

As we reported, DFS filed the motion for the TRO alleging that allowing Lotte to proceed with moving into the Guam International Airport Authority would cause irreparable harm to their company. Lotte today, filed an opposition to their motion with the court.

Specifically DFS says if it is required to immediately vacate the airport, its relationships with its suppliers and vendors in connection with the airport concession will be severely damaged. "Any retailer will tell you that in the given period of time, there are a number of renovations and upgrades taking place this takeover is nothing more than another renovations except it's a major renovation effort so the notion that the notion that closing down part of the shop would do irreparable harm to the traveling public to us we deal with all the time," he said.

Other reasons DFS cites as to why the TRO should be granted include if DFS is forced to move out, it would not be able to process product exchanges at the airport location, upsetting the reasonable expectations of customers and damaging DFS's reputation built over decades. Lotte's response: 'this is ridiculous"

DFS further notes that vacating would cause major disruption in the lives of 60 Guam residents. Lotte says this does not constitute irreparable harm adding DFS's counsel had previously noted that "none of DFS airport employees are expected to be displaced." Lotte further states that the only reputation harm suffered by DFS came at its own hand.

In the meantime, Lotte is continuing with its move unless told otherwise. Project manager Lino Fritz and logistic advisor Paul Blas explain, saying, respectively, "We're moving merchandise this evening, training is ongoing, orientation is ongoing 0617 we received all the products for the 13 local vendors and they're all priced and all tagged," and, "We've got over 125 fixtures that need to go into the store, we currently have 90 percent of the fixtures at the airport staged in strategic areas so its officially moved to the floor on the same morning."

And while both Lotte and DFS's attorney's continue the legal battle, Lotte's consultant Tony Sgro had nothing but good things to say about DFS saying having not one but two businesses will benefit the island. "Duty Free has been here, they've been the pioneer of the tourism industry and has done great deeds for Guam in all these years having two large companies like this on our island can do nothing but positive things for our people and our airport," he said.

Sgro adds at the end of the day, his biggest worry is not the legal battles but the people of Guam adding he's further concerned about what happens to those already hired should this TRO move forward.

In Lotte's opposition to DFS's motion for a TRO, Lotte says DFS has zero right to remain at the airport maintaining that it is a holdover tenant. And should the TRO be granted, Lotte is requesting that DFS be required to put up a $24 million bond considering that's how much Lotte has invested so far in terms of hiring and transitioning. Superior Court Judge Michael Bordallo meanwhile has been assigned the ex-parte judge and has scheduled a hearing Wednesday at 2pm on the TRO. 

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