Wild Oats Markets was an operator of natural foods stores and farmers markets in North America. The stores offered dry grocery, meat, poultry, seafood, dairy, frozen, prepared foods, bakery, vitamins and supplements, health and body care, and household items. As of February 21, 2007, it operated 110 stores in 24 states and British Columbia, Canada. Wild Oats Markets was the nation's second largest natural and organic foods chain. Wild Oats Markets was founded in 1987 and was headquartered in Boulder, Colorado.
On February 21 2007, Wild Oats' rival Whole Foods Market, Inc announced that it had agreed to acquire Wild Oats for an estimated $565 million. After an extensive regulatory battle with the FTC, a federal appeals court consented to the deal. Whole Foods officially completed their buyout of Wild Oats on August 27 2007. The company is currently in the process of converting their remaining Wild Oats locations to the Whole Foods name.
Wild Oats Markets acquired the 11-store Boulder-based Alfalfa's Markets chain in July 1996. Three Capers Community Market natural foods stores, located in British Columbia, were part of the Alfalfa's acquisition and have maintained the Capers name. In 1999, Wild Oats acquired several divisions, including 11 San Diego-based Henry's Marketplace stores (rebranded Henry's Farmers Market in 2004), the Nature's Northwest chain of stores in Portland, OR, and nine San Antonio-based Sun Harvest stores.
In 2001, Perry Odak became President and Chief Executive Officer of Wild Oats Markets, coming from Ben & Jerry’s. Odak resigned in October 2006 after he and the company were unable to reach an agreement for a new employment contract. Gregory Mays, Chairman of the Board, was named interim chief executive officer. Mays is a former chief financial officer of Ralphs Grocery Co.
Wild Oats announced that it would close all five of its Henry's Farmers Market stores in Arizona on December 16, 2006, and would instead focus on the Wild Oats banner in that market.
On June 27, 2007, the Federal Trade Commission issued an administrative complaint challenging the acquisition. According to the complaint, the FTC believed that the proposed transaction "would violate federal antitrust laws by eliminating the substantial competition between these two uniquely close competitors in the operation of premium natural and organic supermarkets nationwide" and contended that "if the transaction goes forward Whole Foods would have the ability to raise prices and reduce quality and services. On August 23 2007, the federal appeals court for the D.C. circuit refused to block the deal, citing increasing competition in the organic grocery business from traditional grocers like Safeway and Kroger as reasoning for allowing the deal.
Whole Foods officially completed their buyout of Wild Oats on August 27 2007 Whole Foods plans to upgrade and improve some Wild Oats locations before rebranding them to the "Whole Foods" name. Other Wild Oats locations will either be relocated or closed. In October 2007 the company completed the sale of all 35 Henry's Farmers Market and Sun Harvest Market stores to a subsidiary of Los Angeles grocer Smart & Final Inc. for $166 million.