Abercrombie & Fitch has filed suit against Gap Inc. after the San Francisco-based retailer poached its former VP of marketing, Craig Brommers. Ohio-based Abercrombie alleges that Gap enlisted Brommers to fill the role of Chief Marketing Officer in January and the marketing exec, who spent three years at Abercrombie, is slated to begin work on July 25 in violation of the parties’ non-compete agreement.
According to Abercrombie's suit, which was filed late last month in the Court of Common Pleas of Ohio, Franklin County and names Brommers and Gap as defendants, Brommers “was one of only twelve high-ranking and highly-compensated individuals who signed an Executive Agreement, which contained inter alia Non-Competition and Non-Solicitation provisions.” Abercrombie alleges that by accepting employment with Gap after leaving Abercrombie on January 15, 2016, Brommers violated his non-compete clause, which prohibited him from working for 12 specific retail competitors, including Gap, for a period of 1 year following his employment with Abercrombie. During this year, Brommers was entitled to his salary of upwards of $400,000.
Abercrombie further alleges that Brommers is also on the hook for trade secret misappropriation, as “Brommers was provided, helped develop and/or had access to almost all of Abercrombie's confidential business information and trade secrets.” In particular, Abercrombie alleges:
Brommers developed Abercrombie's marketing plans and became intimately familiar with upcoming product lines up to twelve months in advance. At the time Brommers departed, he was deeply involved with developing marketing plans and budgets for the entire fiscal year 2016. Brommers also had intimate knowledge of the long range plan and was heavily involved with the creation of the marketing and branding elements of that plan. Again, Abercrombie's long range plans contained confidential information that extended twelve months. Moreover, Brommers was the executive leading Abercrombie's long-term company-wide brand positioning efforts. This brand positioning is the complete corporate makeover of the Abercrombie & Fitch and Hollister brands. […] This brand positioning initiative will have impact on Abercrombie's strategies for well beyond 12 months.
Abercrombie claims that it stands to be irreparably harmed by Brommers and Gap, whose “misconduct was intentional, malicious, and done with actual malice,” due to the near exact nature of the positions and the value of the information that Brommers has allegedly stolen from Abercrombie and stands to share with Gap. Per Abercrombie’s complaint: “Brommers' position at Gap will be similar, if not identical, to the position he held at Abercrombie. Abercrombie provided Brommers with voluminous amounts of confidential business 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. This information will provide an unfair and unlawful advantage to Gap if Brommers violates his Agreement.”
As a result, Abercrombie has asked the court to order that Brommers not directly or indirectly, work for or contribute to the efforts of Gap and its subsidiaries and/or brands, a competitor of Abercrombie, for twelve months from the date of his resignation from Abercrombie and not use or disclose any Confidential information or trade secrets acquired during his employment with Abercrombie or taken from Abercrombie for any purpose. Moreover, it has asked the court to prevent Gap from directly or indirectly, employing, consulting with, or connecting with Brommers for twelve months from the date of his resignation from Abercrombie.