Alex Libby for Abercrombie & Fitch 2016 Spring Men’s Campaign-Fresh Direction Brand
Abercrombie and Fitch claim Craig Brommers, the former Senior Vice President of Marketing and a former member of the Abercrombie’s Leadership Team was “provided, helped develop and/or had access to almost all of Abercrombie’s confidential business information and trade secrets”
The international retailer, which operates brand names, Abercrombie & Fitch, Hollister, and [A]bercrombie kids believe Brommers (who was in charge of marketing for all three brands) took trade secrets and a plethora of other confidential business information to use in his new role at The Gap— Chief Marketing Officer—similar if not identical to his former Abercrombie position.
“As publicly reported, Gap hired Brommers to become [CMO] of the Gap brand and to aggressively turn around Gap’s declining profits and shares. Brommers was hired to fill the position that sat vacant for one year and that Gap had previously claimed was being eliminated.” It was also reported that the Gap brand lost its “brand identity” and that its brand has struggle to find its way with consumers.”
“Abercrombie provided Brommers voluminous amounts of “confidential business information; consumer and competitor research; and studies and other information concerning its brand and the brands of its competitors, including Gap, in the specialty retail market space,” Abercrombie asserts in its complaint filed in the Court of Common Pleas, Franklin County, Ohio. “This information will provide an unfair and unlawful advantage to Gap if Brommers violates its agreement.”
On January 15, 2016, Brommers submitted his resignation and advised Abercrombie he would join the Gap, which was in direct violation of his Executive Agreement that contained Non-Compete and Non-Solicitation provisions he signed on May 14, 2015, that prevents Brommers from working for twelve specific identified competitors, including The Gap, for twelve months post employment.
By virtue of Brommers’ high-level employment, he had access to competitively sensitive business information including Abercrombie’s long-term company-wide brand position project, which is a complete corporate makeover of the A&F and Hollister brands that “defines how A&F interfaces with customers, competes with other speciality retailers like Gap, and hold itself out to public,” the complaint asserts. “The brand position initiative, (which Brommers was the executive leader) will have an impact on Abercrombie’s strategies through the entirety of 2016 and beyond.”
“The above information constitutes confidential business information and trade secrets,” the complaint alleges. “None of the above information is publicly available and Abercrombie took steps to maintain its confidentiality, including limiting distribution to employees with a business need to know, password-protecting confidential information, and obtaining non-competition and confidentiality agreements from its key executives like Brommers.”
A&F further alleges in violation of Brommers’ 2015 agreement, in tortious interference with that agreement and the business relationship memorialized, and in violation of Ohio’s Trade Secret Act, the Gap offered and Brommers accepted employment beginning prior to the expiration of Brommers’ twelve-month non-competition period.
A&F seeks an order to enjoin Brommers from working with for the Gap and its subsidiaries for twelve months from the date of his resignation, from using or disclosing and confidential information or trade secrets acquired during his time at Abercrombie, and the Gap cannot employ, consult with or connect with Brommers for twelve months from the date of his resignation.
In addition, A&F seeks an order of specific performance of the agreement and prohibit violations of the Ohio Trade Secrets Act, damages from Brommers and Gap, attorneys’ fees, trial by jury and other relief.
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