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    Whole Foods to Test Express Concept

    Boulder, Colo., is the future site for organic grocer's foray into convenience channel.

    BOULDER, Colo. -- As a result of Whole Foods' $565-million acquisition of rival organic grocer Wild Oats, many changes are occurring to existing Wild Oats stores here, including a test of a new Whole Foods concept -- Whole Foods Market Express -- focusing on convenience, the Daily Camera reported, citing information from Whole Foods Rocky Mountain regional president, Will Paradise.

    The Wild Oats store in the Basemar shopping center, in Boulder, Colo., will be converted into an experimental concept called Whole Foods Market Express, Paradise told the paper. The store is anticipated to have a "value-oriented product mix" and center on convenience with more grab-and-go offerings, he said.

    Other plans for the Boulder area, resulting from the acquisition, include subleasing a 40,000-square-foot property that was slated to be Wild Oats' flagship, the report stated Whole Foods will also operate all currently open Wild Oats and pay homage to its history as well. Ideal Market, a 67-year-old grocery store acquired by Wild Oats in 1998, will be remodeled, but will keep the Ideal name, Paradise told the Daily Camera.

    Additionally, the Wild Oats store at Broadway and Arapahoe Avenue in Boulder, Colo., will be remodeled and renamed Alfalfa's Market, in tribute to the Boulder-based natural foods grocer of the same name, the report stated. The Alfalfa store opened in 1983, and merged with Wild Oats in 1996. In addition, one of Alfalfa's founders, S.M. "Hass" Hassan, sits on the Whole Foods' board, according to the paper.

    A Wild Oats store in Superior, Colo., will become a Whole Foods Market, while Whole Foods' existing Boulder, Colo., store will be expanded to 73,000 square feet. The project, expected to be complete in 2010, will add another 200 employees at the store, which currently employs about 350 people, Paradise told the paper.

    "Despite what many people are thinking -- that Whole Foods is going to close these various stores because they're so close to our store -- we're not doing any of that," he said.

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