The Natural

Standing at the legal helm of Whole Foods Market would present challenges to the most seasoned in-house lawyer. The all-natural food giant employs more than 40,000 people throughout its Austin, Texas, headquarters and nearly 280 locations, which presents legal issues in itself. And the company continues to grow exponentially. In 2002 it went international, opening a store in Toronto.

Then in 2004 it acquired seven Fresh & Wild stores throughout the UK. Most recently, in August 2007, it completed its buyout of competitor Wild Oats Markets--a transaction that garnered attention in the media when Whole Foods' CEO and founder John Mackey admitted to posting comments on the value of Wild Oats under a code name on an online financial forum. The event sparked an SEC investigation, and in late April, the Commission decided not to take action against Mackey. The FTC, however, continues to fight the buyout, citing antitrust concerns.


Cathleen Flahardy

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