Wild Oats Markets

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Wild Oats Marketplace
Wild Oats Markets, Inc.
IndustryNatural and organic food production
Founded1987 (1987) in Boulder, Colorado, United States
FoundersLibby Cook
Mike Gilliland
United States[1]
Area served
United States
Key people
Tom Casey (CEO)[2]
James W. Keyes (Chairman)[3]
OwnerYucaipa Companies
ParentHidden Villa Ranch
The logo previously used by Wild Oats Marketplace.

Wild Oats Marketplace (registered as Wild Oats Marketing, LLC) is a producer of natural and organic food distributed through partnerships in the United States.

Founded in 1987 in Boulder, Colorado, it was originally a chain of natural foods stores operating throughout the Western and Southwestern United States. In 2007, it was purchased by Whole Foods Market, Inc, but an FTC objection resulted in a reversal of the purchase.[4] In 2010, the company was bought by Luberski Inc. (d.b.a. as Hidden Villa Ranch),[5] a West Coast-based food distributor, who then sold it to The Yucaipa Companies in 2012.[6]

Wild Oats currently produces and distributes various food products, including cereal, beverages, condiments, frozen and fresh items through partnerships with Walmart stores nationally and through Fresh & Easy stores in California, Nevada and Arizona. The company is headquartered in Addison, Texas.[1]

Wild Oats Markets acquired their local competitor, the 11-store Boulder-based Alfalfa's Markets chain, in July 1996.[7] 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 other chains, including 11 San Diego-based Henry's Marketplace stores, the Nature's Northwest chain of stores in Portland, OR, and nine San Antonio-based Sun Harvest stores. Wild Oats announced that it would close all five Henry's Farmers Market stores in Arizona in December 2006, and would instead focus on the Wild Oats banner in that market.[8]

In 2001, Perry Odak who previously held executive positions at Ben & Jerry’s, became President and Chief Executive Officer of Wild Oats Markets. 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.[9]


Pathmark stores[edit]

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 US 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.[10]


After a partnership agreement by Yucaipa Cos., the relaunch of the branch occurred in April 2014 as an expansion of the organic selections at Walmart stores nationwide.[6]

Fresh & Easy Markets[edit]

Fresh & Easy began testing a new concept under the Wild Oats banner at a single store in Scottsdale, Arizona in February 2015. The 10,000 square feet (930 m2) store opened on February 6 and “...will help us garner insights and learnings about the [Wild Oats] brand and give customers even more options to shop for healthy convenience items," said a company spokesman. He said Fresh & Easy had no plans to put the Wild Oats name on any additional stores. Fresh & Easy decided to test the new Wild Oats concept in Scottsdale, the spokesman said, “because the original Wild Oats chain had a long history stores there and we felt consumers there would be excited to have us use it as a test market.” The test is open-ended, he added, with no specific timeframe. The store is formally called Wild Oats by Fresh & Easy.[11][12]

Proposed sale to Whole Foods Market[edit]

On February 21, 2007, Whole Foods Market announced that it had agreed to acquire Wild Oats for an estimated $565 million.[13]

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."[14]

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.[15] In 2009, Whole Foods agreed to sell the Wild Oats chain.[16]

Notable achievements[edit]

  • 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.[17]
  • 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.[18] The ranking is based on measures of corporate service to eight groups: shareholders, community, governance, diversity, employees, environment, human rights and product.
  • Wild Oats contributed to the success of fairtrade bananas in its early days by committing to TransFair USA to replace the store's organic bananas with Fair Trade organic bananas. TransFair needed this commitment by a large retail chain to start this business, because of needed economies of scale and turnover speed.[19]


  1. ^ a b "Company Overview of Wild Oats Marketing, LLC". Bloomberg L.P. Retrieved 2017-07-11.
  2. ^ "Tom Casey". Wild Oats Marketplace. Retrieved 2017-07-11.
  3. ^ "James W. Keyes". Columbia University. Retrieved 2017-07-11.
  4. ^ "Whole Foods Market, Inc., and Wild Oats Markets, Inc". Federal Trade Commission. January 23, 2009. Retrieved June 3, 2014.
  5. ^ "Wild Oats IP Under New Ownership With Luberski Inc". Reuters. Market Wire. 24 June 2010. Retrieved 26 February 2015.
  6. ^ a b Pankratz, Howard (9 April 2014). "Born-in-Boulder Wild Oats brand to relaunch in Walmart stores". The Denver Post. Retrieved 26 February 2015.
  7. ^ "WILD OATS MERCHANDISE". Boulder History Museum. Retrieved 26 February 2015.
  8. ^ "Arizona's five Henry's Farmers Markets slated for closure". Phoenix Business Journal. American City Business Journals. 14 November 2006. Retrieved 26 February 2015.
  9. ^ "Wild Oats Markets, Inc. Names Gregory Mays Interim Chief Executive Officer". PR Newswire. PR Newswire Association LLC. 25 October 2006. Retrieved 26 February 2015.
  10. ^ "Pathmark Stores Introduce Hundreds of Wild Oats Brand Specialty Products". Business Wire. Berkshire Hathaway. 6 February 2007. Retrieved 26 February 2015.
  11. ^ "wild oats by fresh & easy". Fresh & Easy. Fresh & Easy, LLC. Retrieved 27 February 2015.
  12. ^ Zwiebach, Elliot (11 February 2015). "Wild Oats banner returns at Fresh & Easy in Scottsdale". Supermarket News. Penton Media Food Group. Retrieved 27 February 2015.
  13. ^ "Whole Foods to acquire Wild Oats". Austin Business Journal. 22 February 2007. Retrieved 2014-03-27.
  14. ^ "FTC Issues Administrative Complaint Seeking to Block Whole Foods Market's Acquisition of Wild Oats Markets" (Press release). Federal Trade Commission. 28 June 2007. Retrieved 2014-03-27.
  15. ^ Federal Trade Commission v. Whole Foods Market, Inc., Et. Al., 07 FTC 5276 (D.C. App. 29 July 2008).
  16. ^ Reynolds, George W. (2010). Ethics in Information Technology (3rd ed.). Boston, MA: Course Technology, Cengage Learning. p. 189. ISBN 9780538746229.
  17. ^ "Top 75 North American Food Retailers". Supermarket News. 14 January 2007. Retrieved 2014-03-27.(subscription required)
  18. ^ "100 Best Corporate Citizens 2007" (PDF). Corporate Responsibility Officer. thecro.com. January–February 2007. Retrieved 2014-03-27.
  19. ^ Raynolds, Laura T.; Murray, Douglas L.; Wilkinson, John (26 May 2007). Fair Trade: The challenge of transforming globalization. New York: Routledge. ISBN 978-0415772037.

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