Whole Foods Market Inc. has reached an agreement with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regarding the organic supermarket chain's acquisition of Wild Oats Markets Inc. The FTC tried to block the merger and had battled Whole Foods over antitrust allegations ever since the Austin, Texas-based retailer bought Wild Oats--its main competitor--in August 2007.
Under the agreement, announced Friday, Whole Foods will sell off 31 Wild Oats stores, including 19 non-operating locations. Originally, Whole Foods' purchase included 74 Wild Oats stores in 24 states. The chain must divest unrestricted use of the Wild Oats brand name and some Wild Oats intellectual property.
"We are pleased to have reached a mutually satisfactory agreement with the FTC," John Mackey, Whole Foods' chief executive officer and co-founder, said in a statement. "We will be offering team members in stores that are sold the choice of either a guaranteed job offer in another store or an enhanced severance package."
The FTC said in a statement that the deal helps restore competition to the organic and food market.