A major U.S. retail partner for embattled Winnipeg women's fashion house Nygard has pulled the label from its shelves following multiple sexual assault allegations against founder Peter Nygard.
Department store Dillard's made the announcement on Tuesday, the same day U.S. federal agents and New York police raided Nygard's Manhattan office. Nygard stepped down from his company later on Tuesday.
"In light of the serious allegations concerning Peter Nygard, which are in direct opposition to our core values, Dillard's has refused current deliveries, canceled all existing orders and suspended all future purchases from Nygard," wrote a spokesperson for the Little Rock, Ark.,-based retailer, which operates 257 stores and 28 clearance centres across 29 states.
Nygard cultivated a close relationship with Dillard's, building Nygard boutiques inside the department stores in the mid-2000s and visiting the stores in person to put on fashion shows promoting the Nygard brand.
"He has a police escort, there's a red carpet out and people on either side of the aisles chanting his name," Nygard's communications director told the Free Press about Nygard's visits to Dillard's stores in 2007.
At the time, Nygard told the Free Press his products had seen significant sales increases from Dillard's outlets and was a top supplier to Dillard's in some product categories.
When Dillard's president Alex Dillard visited Nygard headquarters in Winnipeg in 2007, he said the two companies had integrated their supply chains to allow for quick restocking of sold-out Nygard products.
A description still posted to the Nygard website calls the collaboration between the two companies "a major strategic partnership based on trust."
Hudson’s Bay Co. and the North West Company say they have not stocked Nygard products in years, despite being listed on Nygard’s website.
"In light of the serious allegations concerning Peter Nygard, which are in direct opposition to our core values, Dillard's has refused current deliveries, canceled all existing orders and suspended all future purchases from Nygard." — Spokesperson from Dillard's
A handful of smaller stores in both countries have also said they will no longer be carrying the brand.
The accusations against Nygard also has shoppers wondering whether to buy or boycott.
Jackie Macdougall, who was entering the McPhillips Street Walmart, said she was aware of the Nygard scandal but did not believe a full boycott by retailers was appropriate.
"I realize he's the man who founded it, but there's a lot of people that are employed by this company, and I don't think all those people should be punished for one man's act," she said.
"So I don't know if I'm really for pulling everything and trying to shut down the company because there's a lot of people employed by them. I mean, he gets charged, he's going to be punished. And he's now pulled out of the company completely, from what I understand."
A Walmart spokesperson says it is monitoring the allegations against Nygard closely but did not indicate whether the discount retailer will continue carrying his brand.
"I realize he's the man who founded it, but there's a lot of people that are employed by this company, and I don't think all those people should be punished for one man's act." — Jackie Macdougall
Karen Friesen, who was walking out of the Nygard Fashion Park location on Broadway with purchases, said her decision to continue shopping at Nygard was based on the quality of the product.
"The way I feel, I've been shopping at Nygard Alia for over twenty years," she said, "I'm happy with the product, and I feel the situation with him is different from the product itself."
"I understand he's resigned his position, so I feel that's a different issue and I'm going to continue to shop here."
Friesen also said a boycott was unreasonable and cited the many employees within Nygard International as reasoning.
"I feel that's an overreaction, and it's unfair to those that are making a quality product," she said.
"It's not their fault that the head is what he is. My feeling is that I like the product, it's reasonably priced, and I'm going to continue buying it and I'm sure they'll continue on with new management."
— with files from Malak Abas and The Canadian Press
Solomon Israel is a full-time reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press and for two years, the lead writer for Free Press cannabis news site, The Leaf News. He continues to provide coverage of the cannabis beat while covering business in the city and province.
Updated on Thursday, February 27, 2020 at 6:58 AM CST: Minor changes