An emotional plea on YouTube has earned an entrepreneur a meeting with the executive chairman of Loblaw Companies Ltd., which she claims has all but ruined her business.
Amanda House posted a video about her plight with Loblaws, outlining her and her fiance’s efforts to sell a frozen yogurt snack in Loblaws stores that ultimately used up their life savings and went nowhere despite commitments from the supermarket chain.
Since the video was posted on Tuesday, it has gone viral and been viewed nearly 100,000 times.
Weston said in an email he also watched the video.
“The events she describes are deeply disturbing and do not in any way meet the high ethical standards aspired to by Loblaw Companies and outlined in its code of conduct,” he said. “Putting the legal protocols of this situation on hold, I have requested a personal meeting with Amanda to better understand the situation and we will do our best to resolve it right away.”
House said that she and her fiancé, Chris Delaney, as well as their family invested upwards of $1 million to create the first probiotic frozen yogurt called YoPro Treats Inc. in 2005-07. She said that in 2008 Loblaws committed to carrying two flavours in its stores in Ontario, including Loblaws, Real Canadian Superstore and Fortinos.
“We invested everything we had and got loans to go to production and do marketing for YoPro in 269 stores your staff committed to,” she said in the video. “Only your company didn’t carry through with the commitments. They said they forgot us and it was a mistake.”
Loblaws spokeswoman Julija Hunter said Loblaws carried YoPro in hundreds of its stores but that the yogurt bars didn’t perform well.
House said Loblaws staff made more promises in 2008 for the following year, committing to carrying four YoPro flavours in Ontario and Quebec.
With Loblaw staff’s written commitments, House and Delaney got more loans to package and market YoPro now for twice the amount of products and provinces. But staff failed again to follow through with the commitments, leaving the couple’s company in jeopardy, she said.
“We’ve been getting the run around from your company for nearly five years,” House said. “We’ve lost everything and family members have lost their savings and may not be able to retire because mistakes weren’t corrected.”
In 2010, House and Delaney filed a lawsuit in Ontario Superior Court against Loblaws, seeking $21 million, including breach of contract and misappropriation of confidential information.
The ongoing litigation and the launch of Loblaw’s own version of YoPro under the President’s Choice label have taken a toll on them. They are being sued by the banks, have lost their home and are renting now.
Showing a phone picture of Delaney lying on a hospital bed, House said her fiancé was hospitalized last Thursday after reacting badly to sleeping medication that a doctor prescribed.
“So what will it take Mr. Weston?” she asks. “When is your company going to stand up and do the right thing and make these things right?”
House and Weston will meet Friday.
None of the allegations have been proven in court, and Hunter said the copycat claim has no merit.
Watch the video below: