The company yesterday announced it will sell its products in Pathmark Supermarkets, and in a conference call, said more such agreements are in the works. Last week, it announced a similar arrangement with Price Chopper.
"It will expand our brand much quicker on a national basis than we can opening new stores on our own," said interim CEO Gregory Mays.
Wild Oats currently has 114 stores, including Henry's Farmers Markets and Capers Community markets. Price Chopper will sell Wild Oats products in all of its 115 stores, and Pathmark in all of its 122 stores.
The expansion comes amid competitive struggles. Wild Oats also said same-store sales increased 1.6 percent from the year-earlier third quarter below Wall Street expectations, and below the 3 to 4 percent the company had forecast. The company attributed the weakness to the continued impact of new competition. (Last week, rival Whole Foods Market also reported disappointing sales.)
Wild Oats is also struggling on the management front. CEO Perry Odak resigned last month--and Mays, who is also chairman of the company, stepped in. The company hopes to recruit a new CEO "as rapidly as possible," Mays said.
Roger Davidson, Wild Oats' new senior vice president of merchandising and marketing, said the chain will focus on building its private-label brand in stores, which it hopes to increase by 20 percent. In addition, he said the company is pursuing both Wild Oats and Henry's brands of Angus beef, and believes the company "can take a leadership position in organic wines."