Saks Fifth Avenue Pushes Back Against Cartier on Store Redesign

(Bloomberg) -- In the latest skirmish on Fifth Avenue, Saks Inc. has filed a $55 million countersuit against Cartier International over what it calls the luxury brand’s “unlawful recalcitrance” in refusing to leave the flagship store’s ground floor.

Answering a complaint Cartier filed on Wednesday, Saks says that it didn’t break a lease Cartier had that was to expire in 2021 and that the brand merely had a “license” or “concession agreement” allowing it to operate an in-store boutique. Saks argues it was free to terminate that pact if there was a “material change” in its business model.

In its countersuit, filed in New York State Supreme Court late Friday, Saks said such a change occurred when it embarked on a $250 million “reimagining” and renovation of the store. The redesign meant moving makeup and some jewelry sellers like Cartier from the ground floor to the second floor and concourse levels, replacing them with luxury goods brands like Prada, Chanel, Gucci and Saint Laurent.

Saks denied offering Cartier’s spot to a competing luxury brand and said it offered Cartier a “prime location” on an upper floor allowing it to “participate in this grand new venture.”

Saks is owned by Hudson’s Bay Co.

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