Whole Foods Market is in a battle with the Federal Trade Commission regarding whether it can proceed with a merger with now defunct Wild Oats (if you ask me it looks like it already has), and for some reason, New Seasons has been caught in the middle.
When Wild Oats was gobbled up by Whole Foods, the folks from New Seasons didn't have much to say about it. They've been dragged into the fight by attorneys from Whole Foods who have now subpoenaed sensitive business records from New Seasons. The documents requested include anything related to market research, plans for new stores, and analyses related to competition. Apparently, this is something Whole Foods can do because of the struggle with the FTC.
The whole thing isn't sitting well with New Season CEO, Brian Rohter who suggested, in a post on the New Seasons blog, that he may not obey the subpoena:
Of course I asked what would happen if we refused. The answer was that we could be held in contempt of court and subject to large fines or even jail time. In case anyone is planning on visiting me there, I really love doing the daily Oregonian crossword and also M&M Peanuts. (My wife Eileen doesn't think this is very funny.)
The battle has continued to play out on Portland Food and Drink.com, with Whole Foods releasing a statement that the documents would only be seen by attorneys and others on the legal team, and Rohter releasing a response in which he essentially calls "bullshit."
Will Rohter be hit with a fine for not complying? Will he land in jail? Whatever happens, he's the kind of bad-ass, local-loving CEO that I can get behind. Plus he runs a bevy of the friendliest stores in town!
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