Court Reverses Whole Foods-Wild Oats Ruling
Washington D.C. A federal appeals court on Tuesday overturned a lower court ruling from last year that allowed Whole Foods Market Inc. to acquire rival supermarket chain Wild Oats Markets Inc.
The two to one ruling sends the case back to the lower court for further consideration, but doesn’t stop Whole Foods’ integration of the Wild Oats chain or require that the deal be undone.
However, if the district court ultimately rules in favor of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which sought last year to block the deal, it could disrupt Whole Foods’ efforts to combine the companies.
Whole Foods spokeswoman Kate Lowery said the company is disappointed with the decision and is “evaluating its legal options,” which include asking all 10 judges on the appeals court to review the case.
Jeffrey Schmidt, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Competition, said the agency was pleased by the ruling.
The FTC argues that the transaction would stifle competition by combining the two leading organic supermarket chains and lead to higher prices.
Veronica Kayne, a former FTC antitrust official and now an attorney at Haynes & Boone in Washington, said the appeals court’s decision could make it easier for the government to obtain preliminary injunctions blocking future transactions.
Whole Foods purchased the 110-store Wild Oats for $565 million.
A lawyer for Whole Foods said in April that the company had already sold 35 of Wild Oats’ stores and closed 12 more. Another third of the remaining Wild Oats stores have been converted to Whole Foods outlets.
Trahan to endorse Belk golf line
CHARLOTTE, N.C. Belk announced an exclusive partnership with professional golfer D.J. Trahan, who will endorse Pro Tour, the company’s private label golf brand for men, beginning this summer.
The Pro Tour line includes stylish performance sportswear items that feature wind and water resistance and moisture management. Prices for items in the line range from $36 to $120.
D.J. Trahan speaking about his relationship with Belk and Pro Tour apparel said, “I’m happy to represent Belk on the PGA Tour. Growing up in the South, I’ve shopped at Belk stores for years. It’s a family-run business that takes care of its customers. Besides my clubs, what I wear is the most important thing I pack each week. Pro Tour clothes are well-made, fit right, come in great colors and designs and the performance features make it easy for me to focus on my game.”
Shopko boosts national brand offerings
GREEN BAY, Wis. Shopko announced that it has added national brands to its junior and young men’s assortments.
New brands include Union Bay and Airwalk for young men’s and Bongo and Mudd for juniors.
“We are excited to add these quality brands to our assortments,” said Jill Soltau, Shopko senior vp and general merchandise manager of apparel and accessories. “Our shoppers have told us they want more fashionable and relevant clothing. These national brands will meet the diverse needs of our customers from fashion to quality to value.”