Nature's Goes Wild!

Eight Local Nature's Stores Jump to the Wild Side and Complete their Evolution to Wild Oats Natural Marketplace

PORTLAND, Ore., June 23 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- As of June 25th, the eight Nature's stores in the Portland metropolitan area will have adopted the name of their parent company, each becoming a Wild Oats Natural Marketplace. This change completes a process that began when Wild Oats Markets, Inc. (Nasdaq: OATS) purchased the stores from General Nutrition Companies Inc. (GNC) in 1999 and allows the company to deliver the same great all-natural and organic products and service to its customers under a consistent brand name across the country.

"Wild Oats is proud to carry on our role as an integral part of the fabric of the Portland and Vancouver communities as we maintain our roots as the first all-natural and organic store chain in the Portland market. As Wild Oats, we are excited about increasing our presence in the Northwest by improving our existing stores and eventually adding new stores to this market," said President and CEO of Wild Oats Markets, Perry Odak. "As a concerned community partner we will continue to generously support Oregon's nonprofits and causes through our numerous charitable giving programs, as well as buy local goods and services whenever possible."

One of the many benefits of being a part of a national chain of stores is that the Portland-area stores have introduced Wild Oats to several local Oregon companies, bringing millions of dollars into the local economy. In fact, Wild Oats purchases more than $30 million of Oregon made products and services annually, benefiting more than 700 regional companies, including well-known Oregon companies like Bob's Red Mill Natural Foods, Kettle Foods, Oregon Chai and Painted Hills Natural Beef. "In addition to our national reliance on Oregon-based companies for products, because of our density of stores in this market, the Northwest represents more than 10 percent of our national business, which makes it an important market for Wild Oats. We are solidly invested in the Oregon economy and in the success of our people here," said Odak.

An economic engine for the state of Oregon, Wild Oats employs more than 800 people in the Northwest region, making it the largest employer among natural foods retailers in the area. Each week, thousands of Oregonians frequent their local community Wild Oats store, which features the highest quality natural and organic food and wellness products available, including a wide variety of "made in Oregon" products.

Area director of operations for the Northwest Kurt Luttecke said, "We've been getting positive feedback from our customers about the name change. We began this transition to Wild Oats several years ago when we started carrying Wild Oats branded products and incorporating Wild Oats signage within the stores. Changing the exterior signage and embracing the Wild Oats name is the final step in this evolution. This change helps clarify our brand identity for our customers and allows our stores to fully benefit from national programs directed by Wild Oats."

Through programs like "5% Days," where Wild Oats donates five percent of the day's sales to a selected charity, the eScrip program and benefit events, the stores support many local schools and community charities. Since joining the Wild Oats family of markets, the 11 Northwest stores have donated more than $450,000 to local charitable organizations, including the Portland Rescue Mission, Oregon Food Bank, SOLV and Portland Public Schools, among many other causes supported through Wild Oats' efforts. It is through these charitable programs, support of sustainable agricultural practices, and providing employees with unique benefits that earned Wild Oats the distinction of being No. 19 on the Business Ethics Magazine's list of the Top 100 Corporate Citizens in 2003.

The local Wild Oats Markets are members of the Wild Oats Markets, Inc. family, one of the nation's leading chains of natural and organic food markets in the U.S. and Canada. With annual sales of nearly $920 million, the Company currently operates 101 stores in the United States and British Columbia. In addition to the 11 Wild Oats Natural Marketplace stores in the Northwest, the company's natural food stores include Henry's Marketplace, Sun Harvest Farms and Capers Community Markets. For more information, please visit the Company's website at

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