Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Viral vid lands couple meeting with Weston

Say grocery giant reneged on selling product

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TORONTO -- The owners of an Ontario frozen yogurt company embroiled in a $20-million lawsuit with Loblaw Companies Ltd., met with the head of the grocery giant Friday, just days after an impassioned video about their business dealings went viral.

Amanda House, who claims Loblaw backed out of an offer to sell her products, said no settlement offers came out of the hour-long meeting with Loblaw executive chairman Galen Weston Jr. But she was hopeful communication will remain open between her company YoPRO Treats Inc. and the supermarket chain.

"It was a step in the right direction," said 35-year-old House, who attended the meeting at Loblaw (TSX:L) headquarters in Brampton, Ont. with company co-founder and fiancé Chris Delaney and their lawyer.

"It was just basically open communication and explaining to Galen what had happened. It was good to be able to express our side of it."

The meeting was arranged after Loblaw became aware of a video the Burlington, Ont., kinesiologist and personal trainer uploaded earlier this week to YouTube. In the nearly four-minute video, House makes an impassioned plea directly to Weston for help.

She alleges that Loblaw, on two occasions, promised to sell the couple's low-fat, high-protein frozen yogurt product at their stores in Ontario and Quebec but then unexpectedly reneged on their offers.

House says their products were not placed in freezers at hundreds of stores as promised, but a small order was made for a handful of stores with little marketing and signage.

The couple said at the end of Friday's meeting Weston said he would try to get back to them next week.

"He listened, and he's going to investigate it further," said House. "That's all he can do at this time."

In March 2010, the couple launched a lawsuit against Loblaw for $10 million, alleging the grocer breached its contract when it took the YoPRO bars off its shelves.

Then in August, the lawsuit was amended to seek out a total of $20 million in damages, after the couple claimed that the supermarket launched its own product modelled after theirs.

House claims the YoPRO owners and their families have lost $1 million in their dealings with Loblaw and have been left in financial ruin.

None of the allegations has been proven in court.

House never would have thought that the video she shot would've gained so much publicity.

After all, it was the first time she had ever posted anything on YouTube.

"It was a very big decision (to do the video)," she said. "I couldn't have imagined it would've ended up like that, with people sharing it as much as they have. I couldn't have imagined that it would've gotten that big."

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 15, 2012 B11

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