Kohl’s Sued by Jewelry Firm for Simply Vera Order

Supplier alleges Kohl's committed a breach of contract for Simply Vera merchandise.

A jewelry manufacturer has sued Kohl’s Corp., accusing the department store of breach of contract for refusing an order created for its Vera Wang-branded line.

This story first appeared in the April 6, 2009 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Bijou International Corp. filed its complaint April 2 in federal court in Milwaukee. Kohl’s is headquartered nearby in Menomonee Falls, Wisc.

In late 2007 Kohl’s selected Bijou, which had then recently taken over the retailer’s Apt. 9 jewelry line from Liz Claiborne, as the manufacturer for the jewelry it planned to launch with the Simply Vera brand, according to court documents.

The New York-based vendor alleged that after its selection for the Simply Vera line, the retailer delayed issuing its $1.3 million written purchase order until less than a month before the goods were due for delivery in February 2008. Bijou said Kohl’s also demanded that the goods be made in a factory it chose and that the firm “further sabotaged” the order by changing specifications.

According to the suit, Kohl’s buyers contacted Bijou less than two weeks before its delivery deadlines to object to several production samples and said they planned to refuse delivery. Bijou said it disputed the objections, but arranged to return the order to its factory in China to make the required changes. Several days later, with new deliveries scheduled, Kohl’s told Bijou it was severing their business relationship, according to the vendor.

In the complaint, Bijou alleges that after the two companies began their partnership, Kohl’s replaced the team handling the account with employees who had experience in “squeezing every possible last fractional amount out of Kohl’s vendors.”

Kohl’s did not return calls seeking comment on the accusations.

Bijou, which also accuses the department store of breach of contract for its dealings with the Apt. 9 line in the suit, is seeking at least $300,000 in damages and other, unspecified relief.