Friday, January 16, 2009

We're Finally Getting Back To Minding Our Own (Local) Business

Thank you, thank you, thank you. I'm always so impressed by the power of a united community. Because of all of the voices that chimed in from the Portland area and from all over the country, we've been able to bring the issue with Whole Foods to a resolution that works for us.

As you probably know, we've never taken a position on the dispute that Whole Foods has with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) about their takeover of Wild Oats. We tried really hard to stay out of the crossfire of this fight, because it really has nothing to do with us. Obviously, we wish we weren't being forced to give any of our internal financial records to one of our competitors, but we're pleased that a compromise was reached. As part of the settlement, I promised not to disclose the actual terms of the agreement, but I can tell you that there is a big difference between what the original subpoena demanded and what we're going to actually turn over.

Thanks again for your help in protecting the future of New Seasons Market. We're excited about getting back to minding our own (local) business.

Monday, January 12, 2009

We're Just Trying To Mind Our Own (Local) Business. Updated Monday 1/12

We just heard that Whole Foods Market is planning to have a press conference tomorrow to announce that their CEO, John Mackey, has sent letters to grocers throughout the country explaining why he wants them to turn over their internal private documents to the Whole Foods lawyers. We assume that Whole Foods is taking this step because (as we last heard) only about half of the 94 grocery companies that were subpoenaed had responded to Whole Foods and many of those who did respond only turned over partial and incomplete records. We’re also aware that, in addition to us, one other company has taken legal action to try and stop the Whole Food's subpoena.

We hope that Whole Foods will be announcing a new and more reasonable proposal about the amount and type of information they are requiring and the protections they are offering regarding confidentiality. We’re certainly willing to cooperate with reasonable requests, but unfortunately what Whole Foods has officially demanded so far just isn’t reasonable. They have tried to force us to give them information that isn’t necessary for their case and which could harm us competitively. The so called "protective order" they've offered doesn't come close to providing real security for us. If you’d like to have a better understanding of how we ended up in the crossfire of this legal dispute and how it has affected New Seasons Market, you can take a look at this blog that I posted last month.

We’ve been in negotiations with the Whole Foods attorneys for the last three weeks in an attempt to find a solution to this problem. We promised to keep the details of our conversations confidential, but I can tell you that we’re hopeful that the proposal that Whole Foods makes tomorrow will be similar to some of the constructive ideas that have already been discussed and will give us a fair way to resolve this issue.

We’ll keep you updated as we learn more.