The Warehouse is denying it copied a picnic table from a small design firm which is worried it will lose business now that the retailer sells a similar product at a fraction of its price.
James Daniels, design director of Auckland-based design company Mood, began making picnic tables in his father's garage three years ago with his two brothers.
"We pretty much invented it when we were down at the beach one time when we were putting beers and wines in the sand - we needed something to get it off the ground, and that's when the idea came about," Daniels said.
The Warehouse is currently selling a similar product in both design and size for $15, while Mood is selling its product for $49.90.
Over the weekend the retailer posted a photo of the picnic table on its Instagram page, and Mood had been receiving messages from customers, stockers and social media followers since, Daniels said.
He said the picnic table had been a game-changer for the family-run business, and was the company's bestselling product.
"We began selling out of Picnic Wine Tables at local markets and online and their following grew astronomically as a result," Daniels said.
"The Warehouse have coincidentally come out with this product a couple months after we began launching our Summer advertising, which has now accumulated 8,500 likes and 9,500 comments on Facebook."
Daniels said the company distributes the picnic tables and was worried it could also have negative implications for other small businesses.
Mood had forecast that it would sell 10,000 over the busy season.
"We are worried this will affect our business and jobs."
A team of eight full-time staff were reliant on this product, Daniels said.
"In the middle of the year we gear up for this season, we invest heavily in buying lots of timber, hire a lot of people ... and we have a large warehouse in Onehunga just to support and make this product," he said.
A spokeswoman for The Warehouse said the picnic table it sold had key differences to Mood's including round edges not square, smaller glass holder cutouts, was made of bamboo and couldn't fit beers like Mood's could.
"We've been working really hard to bring trendy products to Kiwis at really affordable prices and this is a good example of that," she said. "The team bought this after getting inspiration from overseas trends and via Pinterest and Etsy."
Similar picnic table products could also be purchased on Fishpond.co.nz, Etsy and Amazon, the spokeswoman said.
"If they make a big spiel about it in marketing we could write the product off," Daniels said. "We don't really want to be seen as the same as The Warehouse."
Mood is seeking legal advice, Daniels said.