MONTREAL — The Polo Ralph Lauren store here will soon close because of a contract dispute with Jones Apparel Group of New York, which distributes the line in Canada.

This story first appeared in the January 13, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Jones operated five Ralph Lauren stores in Canada. The outlets in Victoria, Vancouver and Banff, Alberta, have already closed, leaving Toronto and Montreal units. Ralph Lauren products will still be available through the Hudson’s Bay Co. and Holt Renfrew & Co.

The brass nameplate on the Ralph Lauren store here has already gone, although the store has been told by the head office in New York it can operate for another three months. But store manager Wayne Morgoci said he is having trouble hanging on to his 11 employees.

“I can’t tell you more than that,” he said.

Last June, in a highly publicized battle, Polo Ralph Lauren Corp. went to court to cancel its Lauren Ralph Lauren licensing agreements with Jones, alleging that Jones “failed to meet its minimum aggregate net sales volume,” in 2002. The licensing agreement expired on Dec. 31 and wasn’t renewed.

In Canada, Jones Apparel obtained the Ralph Lauren licensing agreement from a third party several years ago. Canada is the only country where it owns the stores.

Anita Britt, executive vice president of finance for Jones Apparel, said the company hasn’t decided what to do with the Canadian stores, but might convert them to their own brand.

A Polo spokeswoman in New York said the company remains committed to “successfully operating our growing global business and the Canadian market is a key part of that business. At the proper time, we would consider entering that market on our own.”