Just before the start of back-to-school shopping, there's a retail battle brewing behind the scenes: Abercrombie & Fitch last week filed litigation against Gap Inc. for the recent hire of Craig Brommers as chief marketing officer of Gap's namesake brand.
Gap Inc. in January said it had hired Mr. Brommers, who had been senior VP of marketing at Abercrombie for three years. He is scheduled to begin his post at Gap Inc. on July 25, based in the New York office of the San Francisco-based company.
Abercrombie's suit, which includes Mr. Brommers as a defendent, alleges that the executive violated his non-compete clause with New Albany, Ohio-based Abercrombie. The agreement prohibited Mr. Brommers, who was paid a salary of $415,000 with a bonus of $120,000, from working for 12 specific retail competitors, including Gap, for a period of 12 months following his employment with Abercrombie, according to the suit.
Since Mr. Brommers was in charge of marketing for Abercrombie's three retail brands, leading a team of 75, and dealt with the company's advertising agencies, he had access to trade secrets on upcoming strategies and campaigns, Abercrombie argues.
"At the time Brommers departed, he was deeply involved with developing marketing plans and budgets for the entire fiscal year 2016," the lawsuit reads. "Gap's misconduct was intentional, malicious, and done with actual malice."
Both Gap and Abercrombie declined to comment.
At Gap, Mr. Brommers is filling a role that has been vacant for nearly 18 months. Known for his social media prowess, he's tasked with reversing sliding sales and invigorating Gap's brand voice at a time when the marketer needs it most. The company, which doesn't have an agency of record but has worked with Wieden & Kennedy, reported a same-store sales drop of 3% for the first quarter of the year. Net sales at Gap Inc. were down 6% to $3.44 billion for the quarter, compared with the year-earlier period.