A&P about to take over Richard’s Food Basics

“This is my life, and they’re removing that from me.”

The Sault Star
December 5, 2001

A&P about to take over Richard’s Food Basics
Franchisee doesn’t know why company taking keys to grocery store
Frank Dombrovnik

The franchisor for Richard’s Food Basics is expected to take over the store today.

Franchisee Richard Everitt has confirmed he is expected to hand over the keys to the Pine Street outlet to representatives of the Great Atlantic & Pacific Co. of Canada Ltd. at 5 p.m. today.

Everitt who with his wife Wendi has operated Food Basics since November 1996, says he has little choice but to submit. But he vowed to fight the matter legally and has already retained counsel.

The takeover would come with three years remaining in an eight-year contract. “We are trying our best to fight with any means we have, but according to our contract we have to (give up ownership when required),” Everitt said Tuesday from his store.

“This is my life, and they’re removing that from me.”

He said he does not know the reasons behind the takeover.

“Rumours fly like snow. For me to pinpoint exactly why they’re doing it…I don’t know why they’re doing it.”

Officials at the A&P head office in Mississauga were not available for comment before press time.

A spokesperson for the store’s more than 100 staff says Richard’s Food Basics is just “another family business to be taken over by a major corporation” in the name of profit. Scanning administrator Susan Dennie called parent company A&P, which also operates Barn Markets and Dominion stores, a “modern-day Scrooge.”

“We all know the history of grocery stores in this city,” Dennie said in an interview Tuesday. “What happened to them is a huge wrong.”

Dennie is calling on the community to gather at Food Basics today at 5 p.m. to show their support for the Everitts, who she says have “done everything humanly possible for staff…I would do anything to fight for them because they’ve sure stuck their neck out or me in the past.”

She said staff have resigned themselves to the takeover.

“It’s support, we’re not protesting. Richard and Wendi have asked us that when the new people come in to run the store, to work as hard as we have for them as well,” she said. “It’ll be business as usual Thursday morning, except our good friends won’t be there.”

Staff were told last Friday, two days after the Everitt’s were.

“It’s all over but the crying now,” Dennie said.

Everitt has also been in touch with Sault Ste. Marie MPP Tony Martin, who has long fought for franchisee rights against large franchisors.

At the end of November, Martin introduced a private members’ bill that would amend the current Franchise Disclosure Act – partly modeled on the MPP’s earlier bill – to help protect small franchise owners from financial ruin. It would require a franchisor to provide six months written notice before refusing to renew of an agreement, give fair compensation and allow the franchisee to pursue a similar business in the same location.

“We see this as the beginning of an epidemic,” Martin said late Tuesday. “Community businesses are losing their livelihoods because the big corporations are looking for a bigger profit.”

Martin, who hopes to ask a franchisee-related question in question period today, has sent a letter to Consumer Affairs Minister Norm Sterling asking him to fast-track his bill or introduce a government bill.

“I’m saying we (the New Democratic Party) will work with him to get it through, ASAP.”

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