Mark Lardie, formerly president for wholesale operations of Brown Shoe, has become the president and CEO of U.S. operations of German-based Deichmann Group, which operates the 390-unit Rack Room chain in the U.S. The hiring was identified in a lawsuit from Brown Shoe designed to prohibit the hiring.
The suit was filed in St. Louis County Circuit Court against Lardie on Wednesday, which was his last day on the job at Brown, according to St. Louis Today. The suit alleged that Lardie violated a noncompete agreement signed in 2009. It prohibited Lardie from working for a rival shoe company for up to a year after leaving Brown, the suit said, and listed Rack Room Shoes as a competitor.
Brown said in the suit that it wanted to protect highly sensitive and confidential information on its brands, vendor terms, marketing and advertising plans, sourcing and long-range planning that Lardie was privy to.
Brown asked the court to bar Lardie from working for Deichmann while the litigation proceeds, to permanently bar him from disclosing Brown trade secrets and to order him to return all documents and materials belonging to Brown. Brown also seeks an unspecified amount to cover court costs, including attorneys fees. No hearing date has been set
Lardie joined Brown in 2005 as a vice president and general merchandise manager with Brown’s Famous Footwear subsidiary.
In his most recent job, he oversaw the sales and strategic direction for some of its most recognizable brands, including Dr. Scholl’s, Naturalizer and LifeStride. This year, he took on extra responsibilities when Brown acquired athletic footwear company American Sporting Goods Corp., which makes Avia and Ryka shoes, the suit said.