Natural and organic foods retailer, Wild Oats Markets, has announced changes in the organisational structure of its merchandising department.

Effective immediately, the changes reflect an increased emphasis on R&D, and category management within the company's merchandising department.

John Taylor, former Director of the Food Service Department, has been named Senior Director of Quality Assurance and R&D. In this newly created position, Taylor will oversee research and development of Wild Oats' food service and private label product lines. Additionally, he will direct the Company's quality assurance and product standards initiatives.

Taylor has led the company's Food Service Department for two years. His previous experience spans several operations, management, and research and development positions at national restaurant corporations.

Annie Hunt, who has served in several merchandising management capacities at Wild Oats for more than seven years, has been named VP of Food Service. Hunt will focus on building the Food Service program nationwide.

Hunt most recently served as VP of Wild Oats' Grocery Department, and replacing her in this role is Brandon Bagley. Bagley joined Wild Oats in 2001 as Director of Merchandising Services with responsibility for chain-wide pricing, shelf-development, retail merchandising and Category Management initiatives. Management of all functions within the Grocery Department has been added to his current responsibilities, including sales and procurement.

Steve Kaczynski, Senior VP of Merchandising for Wild Oats, commented: "These changes reflect our continuing effort to enhance Wild Oats' position of quality in the marketplace; and to transition to a category management structure to better serve our customers with consistency of products and pricing across our chain.

"With a greater emphasis on research and development and quality assurance, we are strengthening our commitment to our customers by ensuring that the products we offer in our stores meet our product standards for all natural foods, and are the highest quality available."