Thursday, August 30, 2007

Whole Foods Merger News

Whole Foods to Keep Some Wild Oats Retail Banners: Convert One Store to New Format Called Whole Foods' Market Express
By: NSFM, Aug. 30, 2007

Will Paradise, Whole Foods Market, Inc.'s Rocky Mountain Regional President, today told the Boulder, Colorado Daily Camera newspaper that the supernatural grocer will keep some traditional Wild Oats retail banners, at least in Wild Oat's home county.

Paradise also said Whole Foods will convert the Wild Oats store in Boulder's Basemar Shopping Center to an experimental format called "Whole Foods Market Express." He said the express format is focused on convenience and is expected to have a "value-oriented product mix" and more grab-and-go prepared food offerings.

In terms of keeping some of the Wild Oats retail banners Paradise told the Daily Camera the intent is to operate all the Wild Oats stores currently open in Boulder County and to pay homage to history in the process.

For example Paradise said the current Wild Oats store at Broadway and Arapahoe Avenue in Boulder will be remodeled and renamed Alfalfa's Market as a homage to the former Boulder-based natural foods grocer of that same name. The Alfalfa's chain merged with Wild Oats in 1996.

Another Wild Oats store named Ideal Market, which was acquired by Wild Oats in 1998, will be remodeled but the Ideal Market name will be kept according to Paradise. The Ideal Market name goes back nearly 70 years in Boulder. Paradise said the idea is to keep the moniker and "make sure the personality" (of the store) is preserved.

Paradise also said two existing Wild Oats in Boulder County--a store in Boulder on Pearl Street and another store in the nearby town of Superior--will be renamed Whole Foods. The Pearl Street store will also undergo a remodeling, which will expand it from its present size to 73,000 square-feet, according to Paradise.

Paradise told the Daily Camera Whole Foods won't close any of the Boulder County Wild Oats stores, even those close to each other. That's why the grocer is keeping the Ideal Market name and changing on Wild Oats banner store to Alfalfa's Market.

Wild Oats built but never opened a 40,000 square-foot store in Boulder which was to become the retailers flagship store. Wild Oats sited various reasons for never opening the store. Paradise said Whole Foods won't open the store but rather will lease the space to a non-food-oriented retailer.

Paradise also said Whole Foods hasn't decided what to do with Wild Oats' corporate headquarters building in Boulder. He said if Whole Foods does decide to use it as the grocer's Rocky Mountain region offices they would need to lease a large part of the building because the 82,500 square-foot building is too large for his division's needs. The Rocky Mountain Division becomes Whole Foods largest regional division after the merger.

The conversions Paradise discussed should take between 12-18 months he said. However he told the Daily Camera there will be a push for price reductions and weekly discounts at all the Wild Oats stores Whole Foods will be operating nationwide.

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