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In an investor conference yesterday, Wild Oats Markets CFO Edward Dunlap said that a “large and highly fragmented market” offers the company significant opportunity for growth, and that Wild Oats eventually could expand from its current 102 stores to as many as 500.

Wild Oats currently has a three percent market share, and Whole Foods has a seven percent share, Dunlap said. But 75 percent of the country is “unpenetrated” by either chain, meaning there is a lot of room for expansion, he said.

The goal, according to Dunlap, is a growth rate of 25 new stores a year, a pace it should hit by 2005; this year the company will open 10 new stores, with 20 openings planned for next year.
KC's View:
Unless, of course, the company is acquired…which is something we hear a lot of speculation about. The more successful Wild Oats is, and the broader the acceptance of its marketing vision, the more attractive it may look to some major player.