A Shift in New Seasons Ownership

 Noah Wali 

Many OES students lean on New Seasons as the “go-to spot” for an after school snack or a study-sesh. But recently, the chain has made a major change.

New Seasons offers great local options for groceries and food, and always houses the kindest employees of any grocery store I’ve seen. Recently, New Seasons CEO Forest Hoffmaster told OPB news 100% of New Seasons would be sold to a bigger provisions company named Good Food Holdings. How this will affect the daily operations of New Seasons is yet to be explored.

Good Food Holdings is a small subsidiary of a South Korean Company known as “Emart”. Emart is the largest retailer in South Korea. Forest Hoffmaster, however, will remain the CEO of New Seasons. In an interview with OPB, Hoffmann said “I think it’s actually a really smart strategy right now in a world of consolidation… which is really creating a more homogenized landscape. Good Food Holdings is dedicated to investing in local food retail companies where we can each maintain our own unique and deep relationships with customers that we have in our local community.” With the news of the sale, the construction of new stores in Washington has halted in Washington, and plans for future growth are unknown at this time. 

Many people have criticized New Seasons’ decision, noting that in 2009, the grocer promised its employees a future possibility for more broadly-based ownership, including stocks for employees. Not only are employees upset, but some customers have addressed concerns about the loss of the local aspect of New Seasons. The “locally owned and operated” sign New Seasons boasts outside of its store attracts many customers. Others have expressed their indifference about the decision. 

Since New Seasons plays a vital role in our community, I asked a few students what they thought about the recent change in ownership. Sophie Chen, ‘20, provided me with insightful aspects of the change that I hadn’t thought about before: “New Seasons is quite expensive and in the past, they’ve been accused of causing gentrification,” Sophie says, “The change might be good because it means they might not expand. The stores will probably stay the same on the inside. I’m sure they’ll keep their signature banana cake.” John Fitzhenry, ‘20, told me he thinks it’s hilarious that the “Locally Owned” sign still hangs on the Beaverton Hillsdale Hwy New Seasons. Nonetheless, he still plans on shopping there.

Even if you’re indifferent about the transition, I encourage you (if financially feasible) to always consider where your food comes from.