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BTAC Asks for Sit Down with Co-op Board

Published April 30, 2009

TORONTO, Ontario (BRAIN)—More than a year after Canada’s Mountain Equipment Co-op announced its intentions to enter the bicycle business, tensions continue to mount between the co-op and the country’s independent bicycle retailers.

The Bicycle Trade Association of Canada sent a letter to MEC’s chair of the board of directors on Wednesday, the day before the MEC’s annual general meeting. The letter questions MEC’s purpose for entering the bicycle industry and criticizes an October, 2008 blog on the MEC Web site that accuses Canadian bicycle manufacturers of unethical standards in their sourcing.

The letter also complains of an unfair advantage enjoyed by MEC because, as a co-op, it doesn’t have to pay corporate taxes.

MEC, Canada’s largest outdoor retailer, announced last February that it would expand its bicycle business in 2010 to include service departments and sales of its own brand of bikes in addition to the parts and accessories business it’s done for decades.

At that time, many Canadian independent bicycle retailers balked at a perceived unfair business advantage because of the tax structure.

Usman Valiante, director of advocacy for BTAC, said the organization opted to send a letter now because the debate has continued to percolate and BTAC felt it needed to formally state its position to MEC. Valiante said he hopes the letter leads to positive discussions with the MEC board about the issues.

Tim Southam, spokesman for MEC, said on Thursday that the letter had been forwarded to the board, but that a decision had not yet been made on how the board would address BTAC’s concerns.
—Nicole Formosa

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