The long-running war of words between Principal Distribution and defection. Computers Unlimited (CU) has climaxed with the former suing its rival and Alan Clarke, business development director at CU, for breach of contract.
Principal is seeking damages, believed to be in the region of £2.5 million, after Symantec appointed CU as its exclusive UK distributor for the Macintosh channel at the end of March, elbowing out the incumbent Principal, which had held the contract for 10 years.
The High Court writ alleged that Clarke, who left Principal on 8 May 1998 before joining CU at the start of June 1998, was the driving force behind the negotiations with Symantec on behalf of CU. It claimed that as a result, Clarke was in breach of a clause in his termination agreement, which forbade him from working for a competitor or dealing with any of Principal's suppliers for 12 months after quitting the firm. Clarke was paid £11,000 for entering into the termination agreement, according to the writ.
The writ stated that, based on quarterly targets from Symantec, Principal would have made an annual profit of between £140,000 and £244,000, with additional annual profit from rebates of between £23,000 and £38,802.
It continued that in the past year, Principal made an additional annual profit of £161,736 from Symantec products and could have continued generating at least these levels of profit every year. The writ claimed that but for the breach, the agreement between Principal and Symantec would have continued for the next five years.
Rod MacMillan, chairman of Principal, denied that the loss of the Symantec contract had destabilised the distributor, although he refused to comment on its financial position.
'We are still trading in Symantec but there's a lot less security this way. But Symantec never was and never will be a significant company to us,' he claimed.
James Sanson, managing director of CU, said: 'We will defend Alan and ourselves and respond vigorously. We believe Principal has a few challenges at present and is attempting to distract attention from itself.'
Symantec refused to comment.
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