Wednesday, August 15, 2007, 8/15/2007 07:33:00 AM

FTC Screw-Up: Whole Foods Trade Secrets Released

From the AP via KGTB-TV in Harlingen, Texas, a story about the FTC's accidental public release of trade secrets disclosed by Whole Foods in connection with the FTC's lawsuit to block Whole Foods attempted acquisition of Wild Oats markets. The FTC opposes the merger of the two upscale grocers on antitrust grounds.

Among other gems, the documents revealed that Whole Foods plans to shut down 30 Wild Oats stores that compete with it in the event the merger goes through. In addition, the FTC revealed how Whole Foods negotiates with suppliers to drive up costs for Wal-Mart Stores.

Regulators also discussed the company's closely held marketing strategies.

According to the story, the filing says one of the most important factors in placing a new Whole Foods store is college graduate density. (Surely that can't be much of a secret.)

The FTC says the opening of a Whole Foods store can cut revenue 30% or more in nearby Wild Oats stores while closing those would increase Whole Foods revenue by as much as 90%. Hence the desire for the merger.

Apparently the FTC later released properly redacted documents. Thanks a lot, guys!

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