Manitoba

U.S. department store chain cutting ties with Nygard in light of sexual assault allegations

Dillard's, a large department store chain with nearly 300 locations in the U.S., is severing ties with Canadian fashion company Nygard over recent sexual assault allegations against the company's founder, Peter Nygard.

Dillard's, with nearly 300 locations, has cancelled all orders with company founded by Canadian fashion mogul

Ten women have filed a civil class-action lawsuit against Peter Nygard, accusing the clothing manufacturer of raping them at his seaside mansion in the Bahamas. (The Associated Press)

A large department store chain with nearly 300 locations in the U.S. is severing ties with the Canadian fashion company Nygard over recent sexual assault allegations against the company's founder, Peter Nygard.

Dillard's, which operates a chain of luxury department stores, said in a statement Wednesday that it is cancelling current orders with Nygard International and suspending future ones after 10 women filed a civil class-action lawsuit against Peter Nygard, who founded the Winnipeg-based fashion company.

The women are accusing the clothing company founder of raping them at his mansion in the Bahamas and operating what they say is a "sex trafficking ring."

"In light of the serious allegations concerning Peter Nygard, which are in direct opposition to our core values, Dillard's has refused current deliveries, cancelled all existing orders and suspended all future purchases from Nygard," Dillard's said in an emailed statement on Wednesday.

According to the Nygard website, the company's clothing is sold in more than 6,000 department stores. Nygard has 150 of its own stores across North America.

A personal spokesperson announced Tuesday that Peter Nygard was stepping down as chairman of his company and will divest his ownership stakes.

His company's New York City offices were raided by FBI investigators earlier that day, but a bureau spokesperson would not provide further details.

Police in the Bahamas are also investigating allegations made by four women who are part of the class-action lawsuit, and who have told police Nygard sexually assaulted them when they were younger than 16 — the age of consent in the Bahamas. 

None of the allegations against Nygard have been proven in court.

CBC News has contacted Nygard International for comment, but has not yet received a response.

Some Canadian retailers also cutting ties

Dillard's isn't the only company reassessing its relationship with the clothing manufacturer. A few smaller Canadian stores contacted by CBC News have also said they are contemplating whether to continue selling Nygard brands, which include Peter Nygard, Nygard Slims, Bianca Nygard, ADX, TanJay, Alia and Allison Daley.

Phinneys, a small store in Kentville, N.S. — about 65 kilometres west of Halifax — is cutting ties with the brand altogether.

The store is liquidating remaining Nygard inventory and sent a letter cancelling future orders, said Phinneys co-owner Andrew Zebian.

"We believe in women, we support women and we like to empower them. We're not a judge and jury, but it's our right to pull a brand from our store and tell our customers why. They deserve to know the reason," he said in a written statement to CBC News.

Phinneys is a clothing store in Nova Scotia that recently severed ties with the Nygard company over sexual abuse allegations against Peter Nygard. (Submitted by Andrew Zebian)

The store was vocal about its decision, which was announced to customers in a Facebook post last week, although the brands were popular and often bestsellers.

"There comes a point where you realize it's not about money and you let your conscience decide for you," Zebian wrote.

Nygard's decision to step down from his duties with the company doesn't change his mind, Zebian said.

In Nygard's home province of Manitoba, a store owner says she will never buy or sell his clothes again.

Leona Kemp, the owner of Northern Rainbow's End in Flin Flon, 630 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg, says she hasn't carried Nygard brands lately and won't stock them again in the future.

"Because of the allegations and charges against him, I would never have his product in the store now," she said.

Winnipeg-based North West Company and the University of Manitoba's bookstore are listed as vendors on the Nygard website, but both confirmed they are not currently selling the company's products.

Hudson's Bay also said it hasn't sold any Nygard clothing brands for three years.

Federated Co-op said it doesn't centrally source clothing lines, but some local co-ops do.They will make their own decisions whether they will continue to carry Nygard lines in the future, a spokesperson said.

CBC News has contacted Costco, Walmart and Suzanne's, as well as other companies that are listed as vendors on the Nygard website or that have Nygard brands listed for sale on their respective websites. Responses have not yet been received from those companies.

 

About the Author

Rachel Bergen is a journalist for CBC Manitoba and previously reported for CBC Saskatoon. Find her on Twitter at @r_bergen or email her at rachel.bergen@cbc.ca.