September 28, 2011
City Market says it will see Thompson Trading or other wholesalers in court if necessary to prove that if there was any breach of an agreement they reached late last year, it was not committed by the food store chain.
Mark Finlayson, president of City Market's parent Bahamas Supermarkets Limited (BSL), said the majority of local wholesalers have been honoring the terms of their December 2010 agreement with the food store chain.
He confirmed that the company had received a writ from one wholesaler already and that he anticipated receiving a letter from Thompson Trading's lawyers "soon", but that the company had a solid case should resolution fall to the courts.
"If we have to go to court, and in certain circumstances I guess we are going to go to court, I want everybody to understand that this is not a situation where we are going to go to court and the courts are going to say we owe them and we pay them," Finlayson told The Guardian on Monday.
"The court will decide."
According to Finlayson, under the December agreement BSL paid 50 percent of its liabilities to wholesalers party to the agreement. In turn, those wholesalers were to extend five weeks of credit to the food store chain, he said.
"Some of those wholesalers decided that they wanted to limit that number," Finlayson said of the five-week credit line, "Mr. Thompson being one of them.
"I am not in breach of the agreement. He is in breach of the agreement. He has never given me five weeks of credit."
The Thompson he referred to was Bruce Thompson, managing director of Thompson Trading. Another publication reported Thompson to have said most Bahamian wholesalers had stopped extending credit to the chain six to seven weeks ago.
According to Finlayson, after the agreement had been made, some wholesalers chose not to extend the agreed five weeks of credit.
"In some circumstances they decided to give one week of credit," he said.
After fielding calls and having meetings with local wholesalers over the last two weeks, Finlayson said he is getting a clear message from the majority of wholesalers: "Bruce Thompson does not represent us."
Finlayson said in five circumstances BSL has completed negotiations with local wholesalers and was doing business with them again. The company is in discussions with the majority of the others and is looking to good agreements to govern their future relationships, he said.
As for the wholesaler with a writ pending against the company, Finlayson said that business has had representatives in City Market stores seeking a way to get back to the negotiating table.
Finlayson and his family picked up the 78 percent majority stake in BSL for $1 from its former owner Neal and Massey in November 2010. They also took on the company's liabilities, which would include outstanding amounts to local wholesalers as a condition of that deal.
Finlayson also used the interview to address a comment attributed to Thompson in a local newspaper earlier this month. Thompson was reported to have said: "The boy's desperate and he's just trying to throw blame on someone else."
"I am a 46-year old man and you can see I have plenty of gray in my hair," responded Finlayson. "I do not appreciate him referring to me as a boy. I am not his boy. I am not anybody's boy. The only persons that can refer to me as a boy are my parents."
He also said BSL is far from desperate and extended an invitation to Thompson to take a look at its Harbour Bay and Cable Beach stores. Both, Finlayson said, are fully stocked, with many items on the shelves that Thompson Trading distributes in The Bahamas.
"We are open for business, we are going to succeed, and we are going to do well," Finlayson said. "Whether Bruce Thompson wants to be a part of it or not does not make a difference to us."
Guardian Business tried to reach Thompson earlier this month for comment. The call was transferred to an extension at Thompson Trading, but whoever answered the phone disconnected the line promptly after an introduction was made.
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