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Amazon Sues Former Exec for Taking Target Job

Amazon isn’t pulling any punches.

The online giant has sued former operations executive Arthur Valdez, recently hired by Target to lead its supply chain transformation, for allegedly violating the company’s noncompete clause.

Target announced the hire last month and Valdez is slated to take up the post of executive vice president and chief supply chain and logistics officer on Mar. 28.

But according to a lawsuit filed by Amazon Monday in King County Superior Court in Washington state, Valdez signed a noncompete agreement in 2012 that requires an 18-month hiatus, beginning Mar. 1, before he can step into a similar role at a rival company.

The Wall Street Journal said the suit is alleging that Valdez, who spent the last 16 years at Amazon in a variety of leadership roles, has already shared Amazon’s secret sauce. In particular, the company said he had insider knowledge about same-day package and grocery delivery and warehouse operations, as well as its in-house door-to-door delivery—areas where Target sees a lot of opportunity. The mass-market chain recently attributed a 34 percent increase in digital sales in the fourth quarter to free-shipping offers and side-wide discounts in the holiday shopping seasons.

In a statement announcing Valdez’s hiring last month, Target Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer said, “Arthur’s leadership and experience will be a tremendous asset as we continue to drive improvements in end-to-end processes including leveraging our almost 1,800 stores to deliver a seamless experience for our guests.”

“We have taken significant precautions to ensure that any proprietary information remains confidential and we believe this suit is without merit,” a Target spokeswoman told the Journal Tuesday, declining to comment any further on the pending litigation.