Design company claims John Player reneged on contract for display units

Tobacco-maker John Player and Sons Ltd is being sued by Alan Devine Design and Display Ireland Ltd of Bluebell in Dublin

A company has claimed that tobacco products manufacturer John Player has reneged on an agreement for the design and installation of new cigarette and vaping product display units for shops.

John Player and Sons Ltd, which has a manufacturing plant in Park West in Clondalkin, Dublin, is being sued by Alan Devine Design and Display Ireland Ltd, of Bluebell, Dublin.

On Monday, Mr Justice David Barniville admitted the case to the fast-track Commercial Court on consent of the parties.

Alan Devine is involved in the business of designing, manufacturing and installing display systems for retail outlets.

It says in October 2019, John Player representatives asked it to design, manufacture, install and maintain cigarette/vaping display units. The value of the contract was around €2 million.

Colin Devine, a director of Alan Devine Design and Display, said last January, following more than a year's work by the firm on the project, it learned a UK company had proposed to manufacture 350 units for John Player in either eastern Europe or the UK.

On February 4th last, John Player management team members Carmel Balala and Marc Bruce informed Alan Devine it would not be awarded the contract, Mr Devine said in an affidavit.

He said he was “stunned and dismayed” by the decision.

“Worse still, the defendant has used the company’s design drawings in connection with the tender process and the defendant threatens and intends to use [those] design drawings as a template for the production and installation of the units in question”, he said.

He said John Player representatives “repeatedly assured” Alan Devine staff that it would be awarded the contract. John Player had reneged on several promises and resiled from the agreement it made with Alan Devine, he said.

The company is seeking a declaration it is entitled to the benefit of a contract for 350 units in accordance with an agreement made in December 2020. It also seeks an order for the specific performance of the agreement.

Alternatively, it seeks an order restraining John Player from reproducing the design of any substantive part of the units. It also seeks damages for alleged breach of contract and negligence, among other things.

The case comes back before the Commercial Court in July.