EXCLUSIVE:E3 Takes On Crest In Supreme Court, Allegations Of Treachery, Breach Of Confidentiality Set To Be Aired
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EXCLUSIVE: A court case set to be heard in the Queensland Supreme Court involving two leading Brisbane based distributors has it all, allegations of treachery, stolen Officeworks ideas, claims of breach of confidentiality as well as allegations that Harvey Norman was looking to buy into a house brand sourcing Company.

The case between E3 Style and The Crest Company goes back to 2013. 

Vannessa Garrard the former PA and now Managing Director of E3 Style has taken action against arch rival Crest, it’s employees and principle director, her actions come after ChannelNews started making inquiries about the Company.

She claims that former employee Michael Tomkins took confidential information relating to deals that E3 were doing with Officeworks when he quit to join Crest.

Vanessa Garrard formervPA at The Crest Company Now CEO of E3 Style


It’s also been alleged that information relation to two secret Officeworks initiatives, called Pallet Project and Camera Project were compromised.
 
 Garrard also claims that Crest Director Dirk Olberitz supplied confidential information relating to the Company to ChannelNews, breaching a confidential agreement between the two Companies.

Garrard the former PA to Olberitz, who went on to work in Crest’s call centre and then their sales operation before quitting to set to E3 Style with two other partners, one who has since quit the Company, also claims that confidential information relating to the operations of the Company and an alleged sale of 50% of the business was leaked to ChannelNews.

Back in 2013 ChannelNews started to make inquiries about E3 Style after the Company took a major presence at the 2013 CES Show in Las Vegas.

Vanessa Garrard the CEO of the Company was telling visitors to the Companies stand at CES which was marketed under the brand name Zenixx in the LVH Pavilion, that they were a leading international player in the consumer electronics space, Garrard said that E3 had operated globally for some time.

A visit to the stand also revealed that the only products on display were products from Warner Bros consisting of, DC Comics Batman and Superman as well as an all-new Scooby-Doo collection.

E 3 claim that they have the global rights for DC Comics.

The cost of exhibiting at CES according to our estimates would be over $200,000 +.

Keen to get to know a lot more about this Company I started to make inquiries about E3 because in my 20 years of covering the Channel in Australia, I had not come across E3 Style or Vanessa Garrard.

As soon as we started to make inquiries I got information from multiple sources  that the Company was struggling financially and the E3 was in the market for either a capital raising or a business partner, we were also told that shares in the Company were up for sale. 

Another rumour at the time was that tthe Commonwealth Bank had refused to fund the Company’s operations any further.

We were also told that E3 was talking to a number of distributors in Australia about a possible merger. 

One of the distributors we called was The Crest Company for the simple reason that we were aware that Crest was looking for potential acquisitions as well as new vendors whose products they could distribute. 

We then called Vanessa Garrard who immediately became defensive, she demanded to know where our information had come from.

One of the allegations we put to Garrard, which is now outlined in court documents was that Harvey Norman who at the time were expanding their house brand product ranges in Australia had been approached to be a potential partner via a shelf Company run by a Harvey Norman franchisee in Queensland.
Garrard denied the allegations. 

She also accused ChannelNews at the time of the call of getting confidential information about E3 Style from The Crest Company, an allegation that at the time we denied and still deny.

ChannelNews did not write a story at the time because we could not substantiate any of the allegations. 

One of the people we called about the allegation that 50% of E3Style was up for sale was Terry Smart the then CEO of JB Hi Fi. 
 
We also put it to Smart, that Harvey Norman was looking to buy into E3 via a Company that would not reveal that the mass retailer was investing in a Company that sold to Harvey Norman competitors. 

Smart told ChannelNews that “yes” E3 was supplier of house brand products to JB Hi Fi, he also indicated that he knew nothing about the allegations that we had put to him. 

Based on his comments and a lot of unsubstantiated comments by other people in the industry we came to the opinion that there was no basis to the allegations. 

Sometime later Ernst & Young announced that Zenixx and E3 Style’s CEO, Vanessa Garrard, as the winner of the National Industry Award for Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2013.

She was described as a ‘force to be reckoned with’.

We now discover that Crest was actually in discussions with E3 Style about the possibility of a merger or an investment by Crest.
The case is set to be heard in the Queensland Supreme Court.