US natural and organic food retailer Wild Oats Markets has reported a 7.2% net sales increase for the 2005 financial year, with net sales reaching US$1.1bn, and a net income of $3.2m $0.11 per diluted share, compared to a 2004 net loss of $1.37 per share in 2004.

Net sales in the fourth quarter of 2005 were $282.7 million, up slightly compared with $281.9m in the fourth quarter of 2004.

The addition of eight new stores, two of which were relocated stores, and four major remodels in 2005, coupled with continued strong comparable store sales growth of 3.8% helped to drive the overall increase in net sales, the company said.

Wild Oats operates 113 natural foods stores in 24 states and British Columbia. Its markets include Wild Oats Natural Marketplace, Henry’s Farmers Markets, Sun Harvest and Capers Community Markets.

“We are very pleased with our results for 2005 and believe it was a year of solid progress for Wild Oats Markets,” said Perry D. Odak, president and chief executive officer. “We achieved – and exceeded – our sales and profitability targets, and we are realising the benefits of the investments we have made to turn this business around.”

Following the announcement, Wild Oats Markets stock gained $2.57 at the close of the New York Stock Exchange yesterday at $17.21 per share.