WILD OATS MARKETS BUYS REAY'S IN TUCSON

BOULDER, Colo. -- Wild Oats Markets here said it has added three natural-food stores in Tucson, Ariz., with the acquisition of Reay's Ranch Markets.With the acquisition, Wild Oats is operating 67 stores in 18 states.Mike Gilliland, chief executive officer, said Reay's 1998 volume was just under $30 million. He said the three Tucson stores, ranging in size from 16,000 square feet to just under 30,000

BOULDER, Colo. -- Wild Oats Markets here said it has added three natural-food stores in Tucson, Ariz., with the acquisition of Reay's Ranch Markets.

With the acquisition, Wild Oats is operating 67 stores in 18 states.

Mike Gilliland, chief executive officer, said Reay's 1998 volume was just under $30 million. He said the three Tucson stores, ranging in size from 16,000 square feet to just under 30,000 square feet, will be marketed in conjunction with Wild Oats' three Phoenix stores.

Wild Oats also disclosed sales and earnings results for 1998, which Gilliland called "the most successful year ever" for the company.

With the addition of eight new stores, seven acquired units and two relocations, sales for the year ended Jan. 2 rose 32% to $398.9 million.

In a phone call with securities analysts, Gilliland said Wild Oats anticipates a sales increase of 30% this year to $520 million, and he said the company expects to double sales by 2001 to $1 billion.

Marybeth Lewis, the company's chief financial officer, said Wild Oats' comparable-store sales were affected late in the year by bad weather in the Midwest, which she said accounts for 15% of the company's comp-store base. She said comps are running in the plus-5% range during the first five weeks of the first quarter and are likely to end the year in the mid-single digit range.

Lewis also said Wild Oats expects to invest $45 million to $50 million in capital spending this year -- including the cost of acquiring Reay's -- to achieve a 25% increase in square footage. By year's end, she said, Wild Oats expects to operate 76 stores in 20 states.

The company said it expects to open nine new stores this year -- in Evanston and Hinsdale, Ill.; Albuquerque, N.M.; Las Vegas; Madison, N.J.; Phoenix; Tulsa, Okla.; and West Hartford and Westport, Conn. -- plus four relocations (Memphis, Tenn.; Tempe, Ariz.; Fort Collins, Colo.; and Salt Lake City).

Five new stores are scheduled for 2000, the company added -- one each in Cincinnati; Kansas City, Mo.; and Long Beach, Calif.; and two in St. Louis.

4th-QUARTER RESULTS

Qtr Ended 1/2/99 12/27/98

Sales $111.8 million $84.7 million

Change + 32%

Comp-store + 4%

Net Income $3.3 million $2.0 million

Change + 70%

Inc/Share 25 cents 17 cents

53 Weeks 1998 1997

Sales $398.9 million $311.1 million

Change + 28.2%

Comp-store + 3%

Net Income $11.8 million $7.0 million

Change + 67%

Inc/Share 87 cents 64 cents