US natural food distributor United Natural Foods has announced that it has signed a five-year primary distribution agreement with natural food retailer Wild Oats Markets.


The company said it expected a three-month transition period from Wild Oats’ current primary distributor, with United Natural Foods assuming primary distribution to Wild Oats’ 102 natural foods stores by 1 April 2004.


“We are pleased to re-establish our primary distribution relationship with Wild Oats and are excited about the opportunities this agreement provides,” said CEO Steven Townsend.


United Natural Foods also updated its guidance for its fiscal year ending 31 July 2004. It said it expects its distribution relationship with Wild Oats to increase its fiscal 2004 net sales by approximately $50m, and its fiscal 2005 net sales by $150m-200m.


It also expects to incur a special charge of approximately $1.0m over the second and third quarters of fiscal 2004, which relates to start-up and transition costs associated with implementing its distribution relationship with Wild Oats.


United Natural Foods said it anticipates revenues for the fiscal year ending 31 July 2004 in the range of $1.60bn to $1.62bn, representing growth of around 16-17% over fiscal 2003. Earnings per diluted share, excluding special items, are expected to be in the range of $1.46 to $1.52 per share, representing growth of approximately 23-26% over fiscal 2003. The company expects earnings per diluted share, including special items, in the range of $1.42 to $1.48 per share.