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RIVERSIDE, CA-Boulder, CO-based Wild Oats Markets Inc., one of the nation’s largest natural and organic foods retailers, will relocate and consolidate its Southern California and Arizona refrigerated distribution facilities to Riverside, according to city and company officials.

Wild Oats has signed a long-term agreement with Mira Loma-based Space Center Sycamore Canyon LLC to occupy approximately 241,000 sf of a 437,000-sf building at 6688 Box Springs Blvd. in the Sycamore Canyon Business Park. The plant will serve as the distribution center for Wild Oats’ expanding Southern California and Arizona markets. The food store chain plans to employ 200 workers at the facility, which is expected to be operating by February 2004. The location will replace Wild Oats distribution operations now in Los Angeles and Arizona.

Wild Oats chose Riverside for its central location and business friendly environment, says John Baker, general manager for the grocery chain’s Wild Oats Markets’ Farmers Market stores. He says the low-cost utilities in Riverside also were a factor.

Wild Oats plans to add up to 55 new stores between 2003 and 2006, with Southern California being a priority market for expansion of the Henry’s Marketplace brand. The company recently signed leases for two Henry’s stores in Chino Hills and Corona and continues to identify additional locations in the Riverside and San Bernardino areas for new stores.

Wild Oats will fill approximately half of the building, the other half of which is leased to Quebecor World, a printing company. Space Center Inc. has plans to build another estimated 415,000-sf building adjacent to the Wild Oats/Quebecor facility, according to Mike Theis, senior vice president for Space Center Sycamore Canyon. Wild Oats was represented by Michael Jensen of Pacific Retail Partners in Long Beach and Jay Dick of CB Richard Ellis Inc. in Ontario. Space Center Sycamore Canyon LLC represented itself.

Wild Oats operates 100 natural foods stores in 25 states and British Columbia, Canada. The company’s brands include Wild Oats Natural Marketplace, Henry’s Marketplace, Sun Harvest and Capers Community Markets.

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