Blog: Dean BestWhole Foods boss tangled in the Web

Dean Best | 12 July 2007

It’s been hard not to smile at the news that the boss of Whole Foods Market was once a severe critic of rival – and now takeover target – Wild Oats Markets.

And the wry smiles (come on, we’re journalists) grew wider when it became clear that John Mackey’s criticisms were made on what seems to be a favourite tool of his – the Internet.

For a man who just weeks ago launched a blog to espouse the virtues of the two companies joining together (and to slam the US competition watchdog for trying to block the merger), it is ironic that his once scathing criticism of a company that could soon be part of the Whole Foods business was made on Internet forums.

Mackey’s defence that he was just “playing devil’s advocate” under a pseudonym is a strange one. Are we to believe that the flaws he apparently saw in the Wild Oats business no longer exist? The market today (12 July) showed its caution – Whole Foods shares were down this morning in early trade.

Still, there is some truth in Mackey’s argument that his criticism of Wild Oats should not be taken out of context too much. After all, he says, his comments came as long as eight years ago.

Nevertheless, those comments are unlikely to inspire confidence among the Wild Oats employees that Mackey hopes to, one day, lead.


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