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The Wild Oats grocery chain could launch itself again with a little help from Ron Burkle who is...

The Wild Oats grocery chain could launch itself again with a little help from Ron Burkle who is rumored to be close to buying Fresh & Easy stores in the U.S. from Tesco (TSCDF.PK). The investor could also house Wild Oats in A&P and Pathmark stores, according to the buzz. Once upon a time Whole Foods Market (WFM) tried to buy Wild Oats, should it be worried about its possible resurgence now?
Comments (9)
  • A & P and Pathmark have been in trouble because while they generate sales volume, they are also among the costliest stores to operate. I think the Wild Oats idea is good, but should focus on a national footprint in underpenetrated markets - not the residual debris left from A & P.
    13 Jun 2013, 08:34 AM Reply Like
  • I think Whole Foods purchased Wild Oats in 2007.

     

    http://wapo.st/10fgG9P
    13 Jun 2013, 10:51 AM Reply Like
  • I thought so too. Rarely follow grocery companies but lived in NY for awhile and the AP/Pathmark collection there was a group of small old locations, large newer stores in newer strip malls, and the flat rambling stores circa 1950. Getting approval/permitted for new locations was tough (one town wanted Ahold (Shop & Stop) to build community tennis courts on the roof of a new grocery store - it had been on the town 'wish list' for years). The older stores were too small or dowdy. The WFM I've seen were always high on visual impact and that would be more difficult to accomplish in the population dense Northeast.

     

    Somehow, I always suspected the West was where the true demand for organic/healthful food was. Perhaps that is because so little food is produced in NY relative to consumption.
    13 Jun 2013, 11:23 AM Reply Like
  • WFM did not follow through on the purchase of Wild Oats.
    13 Jun 2013, 12:17 PM Reply Like
  • WFM did not complete the purchase of Wild Oats.
    13 Jun 2013, 12:17 PM Reply Like
  • There is an active link in the first article, first line, to a story in the LA Times saying that the sale went through and that the brand itself has been dormant since 2007. [It is not written clearly on that point.] Almost sounds like Burkle retained the trade name as part of the sale with one of those Do Not Compete clauses that has now expired.

     

    Since the financier has access to he A & P store portfolio, he might be able to cherry pick enough locations for Wild Oats.

     

    Good luck, dude! A&P made that region their last stronghold after shrinking nationally and selling off Canada. As they say on Broadway, tough crowd!
    13 Jun 2013, 12:33 PM Reply Like
  • Whole Foods bought wild oats and was in court responding to charges of having a monopoly. Whole Foods had to sell some of the Wild Oats stores to resolve the problem. Do not know what happened to the surviving Wild Oats stores.
    13 Jun 2013, 06:39 PM Reply Like
  • In my region (Reno NV), Wild Oats occupied a 17,000 sf store across from the city's largest Best Buy store.

     

    When WFM took over Wild Oats, the company opened in a 49,000 sf space approximately .5 mile south of the Wild Oats location, and shuttered the Wild Oats store.

     

    (That space remained vacant for more than 5 years. It's now occupied by a 99 cent store--which sells produce and frozen foods as well as the normal 99-cent store stuff.)

     

    To ease its entry into the Reno market, WFM hired many former Wild Oats employees, including the store manager.

     

    The transition was so successful that the individual who spearheaded the integration was subsequently promoted to manage new store openings nationwide. (I confess a search for a story about this was fruitless.)

     

    The performance metrics for Wild Oats were dismal compared to WFM:

     

    http://bit.ly/11cP7wG

     

    Sales/sf at WFM were double Wild Oats, despite having significantly larger locations.

     

    The resurrection of Wild Oats within A & P and Pathmark stores seems doomed--from what I remember, many of those locations are in lower socio-economic areas that wouldn't attract Wild Oats customers in the first place.

     

    The game, however, is afoot!
    13 Jun 2013, 07:20 PM Reply Like
  • Whole Foods purchased Wild Oats, then later had to divest of many of the stores because of regulatory issues. I believe that occurred about 3 years later, but many of the stores were retained and rebranded, or a new store was opened and the customers essentially "moved". I don't believe that any stores remained operating under the Wild Oats name at the time of the divestiture, but someone held onto the rights to the name. It was not Burkle, however. Rather, it's someone who used to own and operate 7-11, and presumably that's who would become the CEO.

     

    Burkle (through Yucaipa) is the financier, although I'm sure Burkle would have a semi-active role, given his grocery store background. I suspect they can make of go of it with the Fresh and Easy stores, provided that they get a good price on the real estate. Wild Oats was popular when it disappeared, and these stores are mostly well located.

     

    As for the A&P / Pathmark part... well, it might happen only because that brand has been sullied and Burkle wants to get his money out of the deal. Rebranding to Wild Oats probably couldn't hurt, although the brand is unfamiliar in the NE. Perhaps unfamiliar beats familiar in this instance. I would never underestimate Burkle. He's experienced, smart, well-connected, and usually gets his way, even if it requires the use of tactics that some would describe as being wholly devoid of integrity (or worse).
    13 Jun 2013, 11:33 PM Reply Like
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