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Amicable resolution of 7-Up, Rite Foods’ rift helped soft drink sector -Senate

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Amicable resolution of 7-Up, Rite Foods' rift helped soft drink sector -SenateSenate has said that the amicable resolution of the rift between the managements of Seven-Up Bottling Company Plc and Rite Foods Limited has helped to save the soft drink sector from a “major hiccup and devastation that would have rocked the industry, nation and its people.”

The upper legislative chamber particularly commended them for yielding to its suggested amicable resolution of the rift through an Alternative Dispute Resolution, ADR.

Chairman of the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions, Senator Ayo Akinyelure (PDP Ondo Central) gave the commendation during the consideration of a report on a “Petition from Bambo Adesanya, SAN on behalf of Rite Foods Limited against Seven-Up Bottling Company Plc and Zaid Maalouf for allegedly threatening the internal security of the nation and existence of Rite Foods Limited, Ososa, Ogun State.”

Presenting the report, Senator Akinyelure noted that Rite Foods Limited had through their counsel, Bambo Adesanya, SAN petitioned the Senate, alleging that the management of Seven-Up Plc had plans to send it out of business.

According to him, the source of the matter was an e-mail published on Thursday, 28th November, 2019 by Business Day (Newspaper) with the heading: “Seven-Up MD fires warning shot at Bigi drinks; vows to put disruption to bed.”

He added that in that publication and another one dated Tuesday, 3rd December, 2019, 7-Up Bottling Company Plc and its Managing Director, Ziad Maalouf, suggested that there was a war between it and other soft drink manufacturers, particularly between it and Rite Foods Limited, producers of the brand “Bigi” he intended to prosecute using unconventional methods.

The lawmaker said with the end of the war, the result would be such that the ‘dream of B-brand (presumably Bigi) to take over Nigeria’s CSD (Carbonated Soft Drink) market from A-players must be put to bed once and for all,’ sparked the acrimony.

“That Rite Foods Limited came to the Senate to enable it hear from 7-Up Bottling Company Plc how it intended to prosecute that war.

“That the most disturbing threat against Rite Foods was where 7-Up vowed that at the end of that war, ‘it would become a curse for anyone, to start its own brand in Nigeria,’ just as Rite Foods had; and

“That it was not unaware that in the business world, various criminal and dangerous acts were engaged in such as sabotaging of rival products with a view to compromising their integrity, thereby calling into question the quality of its drinks.

“He requested that Mr. Ziad Maalouf be seriously interrogated in respect of his intention to disrupt Rite Foods operations and pollute the soft drinks sector of the Nigerian economy; and that Mr. Maalouf and 7-Up must give undertakings that nothing untoward would befall Rite Foods and its staff, especially the iives of Rites Foods staff, and the integrity of its plant and machinery must be guaranteed by 7-Up and Mr. Maaiouf.”

He said that 7-Up Bottling Company Plc also appeared before the Committee as a respondent in the matter.

In his observations and findings, Akinyelure noted that “in the business world, competition was inevitable and could easily spark up deep sentiments at the slightest insinuation by a rival; that there was no gainsaying that both parties were rivals.

He, however, added that these sentiments could actually be true or imagined; advising that whatever they stood for, they must not be ignored.

The Senate advised both managements “to intensify efforts and improve their marketing strategies and techniques in order to achieve increase in their market share in the industry, thus leading to engagement of more Nigerians in their employment to boost the economy of the nation.”

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