Monday, December 29, 2008

Retail Memo - Breaking News: New Seasons Market Doesn't Turn Over Trade Secrets to Whole Foods Market Despite Deadline to Do So Being Today

In our story yesterday (Sunday, December 28) [Retail Memo: Tomorrow Deadline For Portland, Oregon's New Seasons Market to Turn Over Trade Secrets to Whole Foods Market's Legal Counsel], we reported that today (Monday, December 29) is the deadline Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Administrative Law Judge Michael Chappell has given Portland, Oregon-based New Seasons Market to comply with Whole Foods Market, Inc.'s subpoena for the nine-store natural grocer's financial records, sales data, strategic marketing plans and related trade secrets.

We can now report that as of the end of business today, New Seasons Market has not submitted the information demanded in the subpoena to lawyers for Whole Foods Market, Inc., as directed by the FTC judge.

This has been confirmed by Brian Rohter (pictured at left), the CEO of New Seasons Market.

Rohter says he can't talk about any other aspects of the subpoena or the legal issue at present, on advise of his legal counsel.

We can report however that New Seasons Market has no plans to turn over the information demanded by Whole Foods Market, Inc. on Tuesday, December 30. And since Wednesday is New Year's Eve, and Thursday and Friday are part of the four day New Year's Day holiday weekend, don't expect to see New Season's submitting its trade secrets to Whole Foods' legal counsel at all this week.

New Season's CEO Rohter says he hopes to have more details regarding the subpoena issue as soon as he can. Right now though he says he's essentially being kept on a short leash by his legal counsel in terms of discussing the issue.

What we do know is that Rohter and other members of the New Seasons Market management team huddled with their lawyers last week in an attempt to come up with a strategy to fight the FTC Administrative Law Judge's ruling that the Portland natural grocer turn over its trade secrets to Whole Foods' legal counsel by today.

Therefore it's possible the natural grocer and its legal counsel have come up with such a strategy but can't announce it publicly as of yet.

Stay tuned.

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