wild oats

Wild Oats Markets

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.

History

Wild Oats was founded in 1987 with the purchase of Crystal Market in Boulder, Colorado. Crystal Market was re-named Wild Oats Vegetarian Market in 1992.

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.

Partnership with Pathmark

Wild Oats Markets partnered with Pathmark Stores beginning in February 2007 when Pathmark added Wild Oats brand private-label goods to all of its 141 northeast U.S. stores. About 150 different natural and organic products were included in the partnership, including specialty products such as imported Italian sodas, balsamic vinegar, organic fruit spreads and flatbread crackers.

Sale to Whole Foods Market

On February 21, 2007, Whole Foods Market announced that it had agreed to acquire Wild Oats for an estimated $565 million. Following a two-year integration period, the Wild Oats banner will eventually disappear.

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.

Store formats

Natural foods stores

The natural foods stores had an emphasis on natural and organic foods in an educational and vibrant setting. These stores generally ranged from 20,000 to 35,000 gross square feet.

  • Wild Oats Natural Marketplace: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee, Utah, and Washington
  • Capers Community Market: British Columbia

Farmers' market stores

The farmers' market stores had an emphasis on farm-fresh produce, natural foods, vitamins and supplements in an authentic farmers' market setting. These stores generally ranged from 15,000 to 25,000 gross square feet.

  • Henry's Farmers Market: California
  • Sun Harvest: Texas

Notable achievements

  • Supermarket News ranked Wild Oats No. 63 in the 2007 "Top 75 North American Food Retailers" based on 2006 fiscal year estimated sales of $1.2 billion.
  • Wild Oats was included in Corporate Responsibility Officer (CRO) magazine’s annual “100 Best Corporate Citizens” list for 2007, ranking No. 59 out of 1,100 U.S. public companies surveyed. The ranking is based on measures of corporate service to eight groups: shareholders, community, governance, diversity, employees, environment, human rights and product.
  • Wild Oats made a big contribution in the start of Fair Trade bananas by making a commitment to TransFair USA to replace their organic bananas by Fair Trade organic bananas. TransFair needed this back-up of a big retail-chain to be able to start this business, because of needed economies of scale and turnover speed.

References

External links

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