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Originally published March 2 2007

Whole Foods buying Wild Oats

by M. T. Whitney

(NaturalNews) Two of the largest players in the natural foods retail market are merging. Whole Foods Market Inc. is set to purchase its competitor, Wild Oats Markets Inc., for $565 million plus $108 million of debt. The move will bolster Whole Foods' position as the largest dedicated player in the natural and organic foods market.

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What you need to know - Conventional View

• Whole Foods, founded in 1980, has 193 locations in North America and the United Kingdom.

• Wild Oats Markets, started in 1987, owns more than 125 stores under the brands of Henry’s Farmers Market, the Texas-centric Sun Harvest stores and its eponymous brand.

• It is expected that a number of stores that used to compete with each other but are now under the same umbrella will be shuttered as part of a Whole Foods Market consolidation.

• Whole Foods Market has expanded in part by acquisitions: Since its inception, it has acquired 18 of its competitors, although its purchase of Wild Oats is its largest yet.

• Whole Foods Market was ranked as the fifth-best company to work for in 2007, according to Fortune magazine; before the merger was announced, it had more than 30,000 employees.

• The move is expected to help Whole Foods compete against Safeway and Trader Joe's.

• “Wild Oats Markets and Whole Foods Market have both had a large and positive impact on the natural and organic foods movement throughout the United States, helping lead the industry to nationwide acceptance and to becoming one of the fastest growing segments in food retailing today,” John Mackey, chairman, CEO and co-founder of Whole Foods Market, said in a press release.

• “The growth opportunity in this category has led to increased competition from many players, most of whom are not dedicated natural and organic foods supermarkets, but are considerably larger than we are,” Mackey also said, referring to competitors such as Safeway.

Resources you need to know

• Merger press release (PDF) at:

Bottom line

The growth of Whole Foods Market increases its power among the natural and organic foods retailers.

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