Friday, June 8, 2007


"The Federal Trade Commission today approved a complaint challenging Whole Foods Market, Inc.’s approximately $670 million acquisition of its chief rival, Wild Oats Markets, Inc., and authorized the staff to seek a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction in federal district court to halt the deal pending an administrative trial on the merits. According to the complaint, the transaction would violate federal antitrust laws by eliminating substantial competition. “Whole Foods and Wild Oats are each other’s closest competitors in premium natural and organic supermarkets, and are engaged in intense head-to-head competition in markets across the country,” said Jeffrey Schmidt, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Competition.
It's hard to see how permitting Whole Foods to convert existing Wild Oats into Whole Foods outlets and perhaps close a few dozen redundant stores will deprive foodies of a unique retail experience. The nation's foodies have been salivating at the prospect that Whole Foods would buy out the company and convert the Wild Oats into a Whole Foods. Fresh sardines, luscious tomatoes, and lovingly cured salamis were only a merger away. But not if the FTC has its way.
Whole Foods sees it this way, "All of Whole Foods Market's 11 operating regions will gain stores, with three of its smallest regions gaining critical mass, and Whole Foods Market will gain immediate entry into a significant number of new markets* Whole Foods Market expects to recognize significant synergies through G&A cost reductions, greater purchasing power, increased utilization of support facilities and new team member talent."
There's one final canard in the FTC's argument. The agency argues that if a merger were to go through, Whole Foods would be able to raise prices. But even with Wild Oats—and a gazillion other competitors—in the marketplace, Whole Foods has managed to do a pretty good job of doing that.
This merger should go through and the FTC needs to go on to some real issues. Basically, the FTC needs to get out of the bologna aisle and look into some natural colonic cleansers. Leave it to those damn Republicans....they want to control our every move.


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Papa Giorgio said...


There was a complaint entered in... probably by one of the big supermarkets (Von's, Ralph's, etc), Republicans had nothing to do with it. In fact, true conservatives are all about shutting down at least eight of the governmental agencies (Dept. of Agriculture, Education, and the like).

Many at Whole Foods believe this will go through. Our competition isn't Wild Oats, it is technically the other markets... especially since they are getting many of the "organic" items onto their shelves.

Careful though, this argument you made cuts both ways. Hillary Clinton called on FTC Chairwoman Deborah Platt Majoras to force game-makers to stop making adult rated games. Tell your Dem Senator to stay out of my bedroom... er... I mean my X-Box.

Anonymous said...

Just pullin' your chain, Papa.
This merger should go through, if for no other reason than to improve the Wild Oats locations (I used to go to the one in Pasadena from time to time, and was very unimpressed).
As to President-elect er...Senator Clinton, she is just positioning, and pandering to the issue.
That, and her hubby buys the games and plays them on his Wie. Projects them full size on the wall and leaves his joystick smokin'.
As to the FTC, first its your icebox, now your X-box. Where will it end?


Papa Giorgio said...