FULLERTON, Calif. — Luberski Inc., a supplier of eggs and dairy products under a variety of brands, has won the bidding for the right to the Wild Oats intellectual property, the Federal Trade Commission said.
Whole Foods Market, Austin, Texas, had previously been ordered to sell the Wild Oats brand and several stores as part of its antitrust agreement with the FTC. Private-label cooperative Topco Associates, Skokie, Ill., had also bid for the Wild Oats intellectual property, which includes the discontinued Wild Oats private-label line.
Luberski plans to use the Wild Oats Licensee rights to launch natural and organic food, beverage and supplement products in supermarkets and to license the label back to the original manufacturers of the Wild Oats products, the company said in a prepared statement last week.
“The Wild Oats brand is known for its high-quality, natural and organic products both domestically and internationally,” said Tim Luberski, chief executive officer, Luberski Inc. “Our hope for the Wild Oats brand is to enhance our retail customers' ability to sell more natural and organic products.”
Luberski Inc. currently has licensee rights to Horizon Organic brand eggs, Smart Balance brand eggs and Gold Circle Farms.
Terms of the sale — which had not been completed as of last week — were not disclosed.
The Wild Oats private-label line, which at one time included more than 1,000 items, had previously been offered through several other venues, including Ahold's Peapod and Stop & Shop divisions; Schenectady, N.Y.-based Price Chopper; Carteret, N.J.-based Pathmark Stores; and Seattle-based Amazon.com before Whole Foods phased it out over the last two years.
Topco Associates, the retailer-owned private-label cooperative, had also bid for the rights to the Wild Oats intellectual property — as well as that of Alfalfa's, another natural-products name owned by Whole Foods — but was not successful in either bid. Topco currently offers the Full Circle line of natural and organic products.
A spokesman for Topco declined to comment.
The FTC also said it approved the previously announced sales of three Wild Oats store locations — one in Kansas City, Mo., to Healthy Investments; one in Boulder, Colo., to A-M Holdings; and one in Portland, Maine, to Trader Joe's. The FTC also agreed to the sale of the intellectual property of Alfalfa's Markets to A-M Holdings.
Terms of those sales also were not disclosed.
The 32,000-square-foot Boulder Wild Oats location is expected to be converted back to its original incarnation as the original Alfalfa's store, according to one of its new investors.
Mark Retzloff, the original founder of Alfalfa's Market and current chairman of the board of Aurora Organic Dairy, said Whole Foods will close the location within about a week and transfer it to his partnership, A-M Holdings, in about 30 days. It would reopen as Alfalfa's late this year or early next year.
“The Alfalfa's legacy is still very, very strong here in Boulder,” he told SN. “The name has a lot of equity. For a number of years it was named the best supermarket in town. It's known as a place where a lot of community events were initiated that are still going on today.”
Additional reporting by Robert Vosburgh