Wild Oats Case Study

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Founded in 1987, Wild Oats Markets, Inc. is a leading natural and organic foods retailer in the United States. Headquartered in Boulder, Colorado, the company operates over 100 natural food stores in 25 states and Canada under several names, including Wild Oats Natural Marketplace, Henry’s Farmer’s Market, Sun Harvest Farms, and Capers Community Market.

The owners, Michael Gilliand and Libby Cook, lacked experience in the natural/whole foods market and the first store got off to a slow start. However, with consumer’s peaking interest in wholesome foods produced in an earth-friendly, responsible manner, sales soon increased and the company experienced rapid growth from 1991 through 1999. Even though they have remained in the number two spot, behind Whole Foods Market, Wild Oats growth from 2000 to the end of the case study (2006) has been less than stellar. They have reported cumulative losses because of several restructuring efforts and showed an average growth rate of only 6 percent annually. During the same period, Whole Foods grew at 21 percent and showed healthy profits. Wild Oats attributed the slow growth to greater competition from conventional supermarkets jumping on the “green” bandwagon. However, some analysts believe that the company’s poor performance was a result of their inability to recover from problems created by a string of acquisitions that did not bring the sales and profits that were expected.

This paper will attempt to identify and evaluate Wild Oats’ strategy as well as discuss the advantages and disadvantages of that strategy. Their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats will be covered and their financial performance evaluated. Finally, issues that Wild Oats’ management needs to address will be outlined, and recommendations offered for each. STRATEGY:

Wild Oats’ original strategy was focused differentiation. They wanted to provide high quality natural foods to health/quality-conscious...
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