Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Whole Foods: It Ain't Over 'Til It's Over

In a completely strange and unprecedented move, the FTC filed yesterday to appeal a Federal judge's approval of the Wild Oats/Whole Foods merger -- a deal that closed *last year*. From the Houston Chronicle:

The Federal Trade Commission tried to block Whole Foods' acquisition of Boulder, Colo.-based Wild Oats after the transaction was announced last February, arguing that it would stifle competition and harm consumers.

But a federal judge rejected the agency's request in August and Whole Foods and Wild Oats closed the deal later that month. Antitrust regulators usually throw in the towel after the courts allow a deal to go forward, because acquisitions can be difficult to unwind.

In this case, however, the FTC is continuing the fight. The agency argues that the companies haven't yet finished combining their operations and Whole Foods hasn't closed all the Wild Oats stores it plans to close. The entire process could take up to two years, the agency said in court papers, which cited recent Whole Foods filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Whole Foods has sold 35 Wild Oats stores and closed 12, leaving 62 stores in operation, according to its first quarter earnings release in February. The company also said it reduced the number of employees at Wild Oats headquarters from 87 to 56.

Of course, Whole Foods executives still feel they're giving customers the best they have to offer both at new stores and former Wild Oats locations. I -- as a customer -- disagree. Making me laugh most at the quote from Whole Foods' spokesperson: "Our customers have enjoyed nothing but benefits since the two operations have joined together," she said. Ahahahahaha! (via Gut Check)


Donald said...

Good for the FTC! I agree with all those who are upset we didn't get a "real" WF out of the deal. After hitting the real thing in California I was dreaming of having one just around the corner, but instead we still have a damn Wild Oats with a new sign.

John said...

Hopefully, someday we'll have the real thing in Indianapolis. Until then, I'll continue to refer to the former Wild Oats as "Half Foods".

Anonymous said...

Way to go FTC!!!

Anonymous said...

The prices are now Whole, it's just the product line that is reduced to Half. I feel cheated every time I go in there.