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BOULDER, CO-Wild Oats executives aren’t meeting their store-growth targets for the year, but the natural-foods chain is expanding by offering its products in other supermarkets. The locally based company has inked a deal to offer 200 of its products in 115 Price Chopper units and 122 Pathmark stores in northeastern states.

Wild Oats was originally scheduled to open 10 new stores this year, but that number was trimmed to eight units after a lease for one of its Henry’s Farmers Markets units was terminated last month and a Wild Oats store to open in Naples, FL was pushed back until next year. The company currently has 21 new stores planned through the end of 2008, but Gregory Mays, chairman of the retailer, says management may accelerate store growth in the future.

During the quarter, which ended Sept. 30, Wild Oats opened two new stores, a Capers Community Market, in Vancouver, British Columbia; and a Henry’s in Oceanside, CA. Wild Oats now has 114 units across its banners, including 73 Wild Oats, 30 Henry’s, eight Sun Harvest units and four Capers.

Wild Oats will begin offering products in Pathmark units in mid December and in Price Chopper’s stores in mid January. These deals, “will allow Wild Oats to build national brand awareness more quickly while still not restricting out new stores growth development,” Mays said during the company’s quarterly conference call.

Same-store sales at the chain rose 1.6% during the quarter year over year and were impacted by competition in its key markets, executives say. For the full year, same-store sales are projected by management to rise between 2% and 2.5%. “Wild Oats has the potential to do better, and I believe much better,” Mays says.

Net sales were up 4.8%, reaching $291.8 million, while net income came in at $3.1 million, compared to the $82,000 the retailer posted in last year’s third quarter. Meanwhile, management expects full-year earnings per share to come in between 24 cents and 27 cents.

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