Wild Oats Markets
|Traded as||NASDAQ: OATS|
|Industry||Grocery store, Health food store|
|Successor(s)||Whole Foods Market, Inc.|
|Key people||Gregory Mays, Chairman & (interim) CEO|
|Products||Food, Organic food, Vitamins|
|Revenue||$1.12 billion USD (2005)
Wild Oats Markets - founded in 1987 and headquartered in Boulder, Colorado - 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. As such, it was the nation's second largest natural and organic foods chain.
On February 21, 2007, its 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 district court consented to the deal. Whole Foods officially completed their buyout on August 27, 2007. But on July 29, 2008, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit reversed the district court decision that allowed the merger. In 2009 Whole Foods agreed to sell the Wild Oats chain. In 2010 the Wild Oats Intellectual property was purchased by Luberski Inc, a West Coast based food distributor.
Wild Oats was founded in 1987 with the purchase of Crystal Market in Boulder, Colorado. Crystal Market was renamed 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 16 December 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.
Proposed Sale to Whole Foods Market
On 27 June 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 July 29, 2008, the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia overturned the district court's decision allowing the merger. The Court of Appeals ruled that "premium natural, and organic supermarkets" ("PNOS"), such as Whole Foods and Wild Oats, constitute a distinct submarket of all grocers. The court ruled that "mission driven" consumers (those with an emphasis on social and environmental responsibility) would be adversely affected by the merger because substantial evidence by the FTC showed that Whole Foods intended to raise prices after consummation of the merger. In 2009 Whole Foods agreed to sell the Wild Oats chain.
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 - Purchased by Smart & Final in 2007
- Sun Harvest: Texas - Purchased by Smart & Final in 2007
- 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.
- Wild Oats Markets, Inc. Names Gregory Mays Interim Chief Executive Officer, Wild Oats Markets, Inc., 25 October 2006.
- Wild Oats Markets Rationalises Store Portfolio, Closing 8 Stores in Under-Performing Locations, Wild Oats Markets, Inc., November 14, 2006.
- Pathmark Stores Introduce Hundreds of Wild Oats Brand Specialty Products, Wild Oats Markets, Inc., February 6, 2007.
- Whole Foods to acquire Wild Oats, Austin Business Journal, February 22, 2007.
- Whole Foods to buy Wild Oats rival, Austin American-Statesman, February 22, 2007.
- For Whole Foods, a natural decision, Austin American-Statesman, February 23, 2007.
- FTC Issues Administrative Complaint Seeking to Block Whole Foods Market’s Acquisition of Wild Oats Markets, June 28, 2007
- , 'Court of Appeals Decision, 548 F.3d 1028', 2008.
- George W. Reynolds, Ethics in Information Technology, Third Edition. Course Technology, 2010, p. 189
- 2007 Top 75 North American Food Retailers, Supermarket News, Last accessed February 24, 2007.
- 100 Best Corporate Citizens 2007 (PDF), Corporate Responsibility Officer, January/February 2007.
- Wild Oats Named on '100 Best Corporate Citizens' List by Corporate Responsibility Officer Magazine, Wild Oats Markets, Inc., February 15, 2007.
- Raynolds, L.T., Murray,D., Wilkinson, J., Fair Trade: The challenge of transforming globlization Routledge, New York, 2007