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Myer battles to stop designer defecting

MYER and David Jones are battling over exclusive rights to sell designs by young fashion star, Kimberly Ellery, just weeks before the label is due to help launch this year's winter collections.

Myer started legal action against Ms Ellery last week claiming she breached an exclusivity contract and failed to supply Myer with her autumn and winter collection. The case could throw open the doors to how the rival stores fight for and keep exclusive fashion deals.

The parties are rushing to settle the matter before David Jones launches its new collection on February 4 and will return to court next week after Justice Michael Sifris of the Supreme Court of Victoria agreed to hear the matter urgently.

Myer alleges Ms Ellery breached a supply contract and exclusivity deal by defecting to David Jones with her Ellery and L'America branded clothing. It is seeking damages and an injunction restraining her from selling goods to other department stores, which would effectively ban her from participating in David Jones' season launch.

Myer has not decided whether to feature Ellery in its winter collection because, ''we can only continue our commitment to Ellery when that … is reciprocated'', spokeswoman Jo Lynch said.

Myer signed a supply contract with Ms Ellery's label Ellery Land in August 2011 before upgrading it to an exclusivity contract preventing her from supplying any other large chain stores until September 2014, according to documents lodged with the Supreme Court of Victoria.

Lawyer for Ms Ellery, Charles Shaw, said the contract with Myer was excessively restrictive because it ''does not oblige Myer to buy anything from the defendant'' but prevented his client from supplying David Jones.

Lawyer for Myer, Bart Carew, revealed it offered Ms Ellery at least $1.5 million in sales in December in an effort to keep the contract.