Battle between bakers and big chains heats up

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Battle between bakers and big chains heats up

Following the government’s designation of 14 service industries as areas reserved for small enterprises, conflict between mom-and-pop bakeries and franchise bakery chains is starting to get really yeasty.

The Korea Bakery Association (KBA) reported bakery chain Paris Croissant to the Fair Trade Commission Wednesday saying it was mobilizing franchisees of its Paris Baguette chain to protest KBA activities. The KBA said that was a violation of the Fair Trade Act.

“We will boycott the SPC Group, which has Paris Croissant and Paris Baguette as their affiliates,” association officials announced.

It was a counterattack against the Emergency Response Committee for Basic Rights of Self-employed Franchisees, formed by Paris Baguette franchisees, which filed a lawsuit for damages and applied for a suspension of KBA President Kim Seo-joong earlier this month.

The KBA held a press conference Wednesday at its office in Seocho-dong, southern Seoul, and said it has evidence that Paris Croissant mobilized its franchisees to protest the activities of the KBA.

The association showed messages the company sent franchisees via mobile phones or e-mail saying that it would penalize franchisees who do not participate in the protest. If the KBA’s claim is true, the FTC could fine the company 2 percent of its sales.

“The emergency committee was voluntarily organized by franchisees who felt a threat to their livelihood due to the government reservation of certain industries for small enterprises,” said an SPC Group official. “The lawsuits and protests against the bakery association are all voluntary acts of the emergency committee.

“Also, the messages the KBA showed were sent by the committee to its member franchisees,” the spokesman added. “It is not related to Paris Croissant headquarters.”

By Chang Jung-hoon []
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