This article was originally written for and featured in Drapers.

Advertisements for Firetrap autumn 12 are not hard to spot in central London. Such visible promotion is to be applauded.

Sports Direct’s recent decisions on Firetrap have been less popular. First, to sell the brand online at less than the wholesale price. Second, to refuse to allow stockists to cancel orders.

Unsurprisingly, stockists are not pleased. Some want to return autumn 12 items. Others would like to not pay for the stock they’ve received.

It is possible, although unlikely, that it was an express term of the contracts made with the stockists that Sports Direct would not sell online at less than wholesale price. More possibly there was some sort of representation made to stockists.

In any event, what is probable is that Sports Direct’s contracts exclude the stockists’ right to set off a claim for damages against any sums due to Sports Direct. So stockists will need to pursue their claims – for damages or, possibly, for rescission (cancellation) of the contracts – by litigation.

The bigger picture is, of course, the impact on Sports Direct and other brand owners. The use of a variety of channels is a given. But this presupposes that they work in harmony to maintain the integrity of the brand. If they don’t, the consequences for the brand can be dire and for the brand owner severe.

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