Workers at New Seasons Market report that the iconic local grocery chain will be put up for sale soon by its private equity owner, Endeavour Capital – this is according to rumors filtering down from managers. That would make sense because Endeavour first invested in New Seasons in 2009 and typically sells off its portfolio companies within 5 to 10 years.
What future do you want for New Seasons? Scroll down to take our survey.
New Seasons Market was founded in 1999 by three Portland-area families and has since grown to 21 stores employing 3,300 workers, mostly in the Portland metro area. Customers have gravitated to its prepared foods and stated commitment to sustainability and progressive values. But, under Endeavour’s ownership, New Seasons has also faced criticism over its role in gentrification and for spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on anti-union consultants.
When Endeavour Capital first invested in New Seasons in 2009, co-founder Brian Rohter claimed Endeavour was brought in to help transition New Seasons to some form of worker ownership. “At the end of this process,” he wrote, “the majority of the company will be owned by the original shareholders and staff members”. In 2012, when Endeavour became the majority owner, New Seasons CEO Lisa Sedlar predicted the company would achieve employee ownership within 5 years.
Now that a sale appears to be on the horizon, is employee ownership still on the table? With Endeavour’s sale process shrouded in secrecy, we have no way to know, but a sale could go any number of ways:
As New Seasons’ #SellByDate fast approaches, Jobs With Justice thinks workers, shoppers, and impacted communities should have a voice in the future of the company.
Full disclosure: At Jobs With Justice, we are excited about the potential for employee ownership to give employees real power to shape the future of the company in ways that are good for workers and the community. However, we also know that is not always what happens with ESOPs. So, we’re going to be doing some homework on the subject.
What do you think? Fill out our super short survey below! The survey has one section for community members, and one section for current employees of New Seasons.