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Planet Organic Acquires Great Ocean Natural Foods

EDMONTON, Alberta - Planet Organic Health Corp., which operates natural food supermarkets in Edmonton, Victoria, Calgary, and Port Coquitlam, as well as a chain of supplement and market stores across Canada, said yesterday it had signed an agreement to acquire Halifax, Nova Scotia-based retailer Great Ocean Natural Foods.

"The Great Ocean Natural Foods acquisition represents another strategic move for Planet Organic," said Planet Organic c.e.o. Mark Craft in a statement. "With more stores and a national presence, we will continue to build our revenues, increase our buying power, and offer our customers a wide range of healthy organic and natural living products. We look forward to expanding our team to include the experienced and professional staff at Great Ocean Natural Foods."

Great Ocean founder Ludwik Turzanski said in a statement, "[The acquisition] is an excellent move for our store, which will provide our staff with an opportunity to grow within a larger organization."

Earlier this month Planet Organic completed its acquisition of Sangster's Health Centres, a 35-store chain with franchised and privately held outlets across Canada. Also, Planet Organic said that it intended to purchase Penticton, B.C.-based Trophic, a profitable leading manufacturer and distributor of vitamins, minerals, and herbal supplements, with a sales force across Canada and distribution through most of the country's natural food and supplement stores. The Trophic acquisition is expected to close in November 2004.

Pursuant to the terms of the share purchase agreement, Planet Organic will pay Great Ocean $2 million, consisting of $1.3 million in cash; assume $500,000 in liabilities; and issue 235,294 shares. The transaction is arms-length and will not result in change of control. Closing is subject to a number of conditions, including TSX Venture Exchange approval and further due diligence by Planet Organic. The company's v.p. corporate development and c.f.o., Darren T. Krissie, told Progressive Grocer that the Great Ocean deal was expected to close on Aug. 30 or Sept. 1.

Krissie said that Planet Organic's stores were comparable to those run by Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods, but "much smaller," at only 8,000 to 10,000 square feet. Asked about possible expansion plans involving its neighbor to the south, Krissie replied, "Eventually we will come to the United States, but right now our focus is on Canada."

-- Bridget Goldschmidt
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