Alex and Ani has fired back against the lawsuit Sterling Jewelers filed against it in December, claiming that Sterling deliberately breached its contract with the charm maker.
In August 2015, Sterling—which had seen success selling Pandora at Jared—agreed to sell Alex and Ani’s products in 108 of its Jared stores. But in a counterclaim filed Feb. 5 in Ohio federal court, the Providence, R.I.–based jewelry company said that Sterling undercut that agreement by selling the products online without authorization.
According to the counterclaim, Sterling, which owns the Kay and Jared chains, could only sell Alex and Ani products online if its products were in 90 percent of Jared’s stores. It never reached that benchmark, the filing said.
Even so, Sterling started selling the charms on Jared.com, as well as at sister chains Kay Jewelers and Kay Jewelers Outlet, and on those stores’ websites, the filing said. Those sales “tarnished and devalued” the Alex and Ani brand, the filing argued.
Sterling eventually nixed the two parties’ agreement, “in an attempt to avoid the consequences of their breach of the agreements,” said Alex and Ani.
Alex and Ani’s countersuit claims breach of contract and seeks a declaratory judgment stopping Sterling from further unauthorized sales of Alex and Ani.
Sterling had claimed in its original suit that its deal with Alex and Ani did not allow it to use “certain discounting strategies,” causing the product to suffer at retail. It said that Alex and Ani still owes it over $2 million for returned product.
The case was originally filed in Summit County, Ohio, court in November and then transferred to Ohio federal court a month later. Sterling has previously declined to comment on the suit, citing ongoing litigation.