ChewsWise Blog

ChewsWise Blog

One More Hole in FTC Case on Whole Foods

The FTC, in making its case that Whole Foods would quash competition by buying Wild Oats, relied on Boulder, Colorado, as an example. That town, ground zero for the natural and organic foods business, is also the headquarters of Wild Oats. And in Boulder, Wild Oats had planned to open a flagship store in March but then put it off.

The FTC asserted, "The Boulder store, the leading edge of Wild Oats competitive initiative, would have opened months ago but for the proposed acquisition. Whole Foods projects that by heading off that store opening, it is avoiding more than $150,000 in lost revenues per week that would have been diverted to the new Wild Oats store in Boulder." (Emphasis added).

Well, the facts are somewhat different. The Boulder Daily Camera reports that the Wild Oats store was not delayed by the proposed acquisition, or by Whole Foods.

Wild Oats revealed this week in a court filing that it has suspended opening its Twenty Ninth Street store because of "a host of significant" design and operational problems, and not the pending acquisition by rival Whole Foods.

But the Boulder-based natural foods grocer said it still plans to open the 40,000-square-foot location feted as the company's flagship store and prototype for future expansion. It just needs to work out the kinks.

"We're still evaluating how we go to market with this store," said Sonja Tuitele, a Wild Oats spokeswoman. "How do we overcome those challenges and enhance the current design and construction of the store and make it profitable?"

The "opening of the Twenty Ninth Street store was unilaterally delayed and then suspended by Wild Oats due to a host of significant design, construction and operational problems unrelated to the pending transaction," Wild Oats' attorneys said in the filing.

- Samuel Fromartz