Abercrombie Says Gap Poached Its Executive

     COLUMBUS, Ohio (CN) — Abercrombie & Fitch says in court that a former marketing executive has spit on their noncompete agreement by taking on an “identical” job at Gap.
     The complaint filed Tuesday in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas says Craig Brommers announced his resignation from Abercrombie back in January.
     Not counting bonuses and equity, New Albany-based Brommers had been making $413,000 a year at Abercrombie, where he worked as senior vice president of marketing since 2013, according to the complaint.
     Abercrombie says Brommers was in charge of marketing for all three of its brands: A&F, Hollister and Abercrombie Kids.
     Part of his job involve “differentiating Abercrombie’s brands and its products from those of its competitors like Gap,” and Abercrombie says it had the VP sign a noncompete agreement in 2015 that explicitly prohibited him from working for 12 specifically identified competitors, including Gap, for 12 months post-employment.
     Brommers had “intimate knowledge” of Abercrombie’s long-range marketing plan, but the confidentiality of that work is now in jeopardy since Brommers plans “to take the head marketing role with the Gap brand located on the East Coast,” according to the complaint.
     Abercrombie says the move comes at a critical time for the San Francisco-based Gap, which needs to “aggressively turn around … declining profits and share price.”
     “It was also reported that the Gap lost its ‘brand identity’ and that its brand has struggled to find its way with consumers,” the complaint states.
     Brommers’ new job at Gap, set to begin this summer, is chief marketing officer.
     The position “will be similar, if not identical” to the position Brommers held at Abercrombie, where Brommers received “voluminous amounts of confidential busiess information; consumer and competitor research; and studies and other information concerning its own brand and the brands of its competitors, including Gap, in the specialty retail market,” according to the complaint.
     “This information will provide an unfair and unlawful advantage to Gap if Brommers violates his [noncomete] agreement,” the complaint continues.
     Abercrombie says counsel for the Gap told it that the noncompete agreement with Brommers “is not enforceable,” and that Brommers will begin start his new job as marketing chief on July 25 with “employee on-boarding.”
     Substantive work allegedly starts a month later.
     Abercrombie said it had no other choice but to sue.
     Seeking injunctive relief and specific performance, the 16-page complaint alleges breach of contract, trade-secret violations, and tortious interference with contractual and business relationships.
     Brommers has not begun work at Gap yet, but Abercrombie says the damages “could be substantial, are irreparable, and are not presently ascertainable or readily subject to calculation.”
     Both Abercrombie and Gap operate hundreds of stores internationally, offering preppy-casual clothing and accessories.
     Abercrombie is represented by Daren Garcia of Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease of Columbus, Ohio. The attorney has not returned a request for comment.
     The Gap has not returned an email seeking comment, and its phone system did not offer a way to reach a live person in media relations.

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