In the deal (approved by Co-op delegates and the central board with no communication to members), Sobeys (a subsidiary of Empire Company Ltd.*) acquired Co-op’s wholesale business and several Co-op grocery stores. The day following the acquisition, workers at the newly purchased stores were told to prepare for inventory liquidation and search for new jobs. Locally-owned Co-op locations that were not sold have been informed that they will now have to deal exclusively with Sobeys as their wholesaler.
The principles of the Co-op have been under attack increasingly over the past 20 years. Eighteen years ago the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce complained about Co-op’s pricing of jeans, followed by several suppliers withdrawing their brands from store shelves. Co-op was also not allowed to provides member discounts for gas and had to give members Co-op cash instead (in contrast, Costco was given approval to provide gas discounts to its members).
Despite the declaration on the Co-op membership card that members own and control the business to benefit their communities, and that co-operation represents democracy in action, members have not been allowed any say in the sale. The Co-op board is behaving with the same ideology as any corporation – focusing on larger profits at the expense of smaller shareholders and workers.
/*Empire Company Ltd. is a multi-billion dollar corporation that owns a dozen other food chains including: Food Town, Foodland, FreshCo, IGA, Price Chopper, Thrifty Foods, Target’s Grocery business, Safeway, and up until 2013 it also ran almost 80 movie theatres./
More: [[https://citizenspress.us10.list-manage.com/track/click?u=27d7d00e19a37005743125d7e&id=eb79380962&e=8484a6ba75][Co-op distribution centre on Keltic Drive to close; 40 layoff notices issued]]