BOULDER, Colo. -- Wild Oats Markets here said it plans to open 15 new stores before the end of 1998, including three units this year and 12 next year.
chief executive officer, "The demand for natural products continues to expand at an unprecedented rate, and Wild Oats is well positioned to meet that demand through its aggressive expansion plans this year and next."
The company said the three stores set to open this year will be located in Scottsdale, Ariz. (a replacement unit); Buffalo Grove, Ill.; and West Denver, Colo.
Stores scheduled to open next year will be located in Tempe, Ariz.; Denver, Fort Collins and Westminster, Colo.; Pinecrest and Kendall, Fla.; Dubb, Ohio; Kansas City, Mo.; Hinsdale, Ill.; and Santa Fe, N.M. (a replacement unit), plus the locations in Princeton and Santa Monica. Wild Oats operates 50 stores in 11 states and British Columbia, including 13 Alfalfa's Markets here that were acquired in 1996; seven new stores that opened last year; and six more that opened in the first quarter of this year.
During the third quarter Wild Oats said it acquired three natural-food supermarkets in Phoenix that operated under the name Reay's Ranch Markets. The company said it also opened a new store in Laguna Beach, Calif., in September and closed a store in San Francisco last month.
Wild Oats said sales for the 13-week third quarter ended Sept. 27 rose 33% to $80 million and for the nine-month period rose 75% to $226.4 million.
Comparable-store sales rose 6% for the quarter and 5% for the nine months. The company said the nine-month figure includes a comparison against significant sales increases in Wild Oats' Colorado and Vancouver, British Columbia, stores in the second quarter of 1996 resulting from a strike at conventional supermarkets in those regions.
Excluding the strike comparison, comparable-store sales for the nine-month period rose 6%, the company noted.
Net income rose 3,357% to $1.8 million for the quarter and 921% to $5.1 million for the year to date, which the company said reflected improved operating performance of maturing newer stores opened in 1996 and the addition of the nine stores during the first nine months of 1997.