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Wild Oats Sews Up New Finance Chief

Former Gap executive set to take over finance department at organic food retailer. Also: Nuance CFO resigns.
Jennifer CaplanDecember 18, 2001
  • Edward Dunlap has been chosen to head the finance department at organic food market chain Wild Oats Markets Inc. Dunlap succeeds Frances Rathke, who took over the position on an interim basis in July. That’s when former Wild Oats CFO Mary Beth Lewis left the Boulder, Colorado-based company.

    Dunlap joins Wild Oats from Gap Inc., where he served as vice president and finance director for the clothing retailer’s European division. Dunlap has also held financial positions at R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Worldwide Inc., PepsiCo Inc., Worldwide Beverages, and the B.F. Goodrich Co.

    The new Wild Oats finance chief holds an M.B.A. in marketing and finance from the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business, and a B.A. in economics from Reed College in Portland, Oregon. “With extensive operating experience, proven financial management abilities and a consumer retailing background, Ed has the right blend of experience and knowledge to help drive our next phase of development and expansion,” said company CEO Perry Odak in a statement.

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    Indeed, Wild Oats’ business has been expanding of late. With annual sales of nearly $900 million, Wild Oats currently operates 109 stores in 23 states and Canada. The company generated $222 million in sales in the third quarter, a 7 percent increase over $207 million in sales in Q3 of 2000. Gross profit reached $64 million, a 2 percent increase over the same period last year.

    Earlier this month, two co-founding members of Wild Oats, Michael Gilliland and his wife Elizabeth Cook, resigned their positions as directors of the board to “pursue other endeavors and diversify their investment portfolio.” They said in a statement: “We are pleased with the new management and the progress they have made in improving the financial performance of the company.”

  • Michael Burke is the new finance chief at Intermagnetics General Corp., a maker of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) products for medical diagnostics. Burke succeeds Michael Zeigler, who is retiring after 16 years with the Latham, New York-based company. Previously, Burke was chief financial officer at Hydrogen Burner Technology Inc., a maker of hydrogen generators and integrated fuel processors. He has also been managing director in the U.S. investment banking department at CIBC World Markets and a director in the global investment banking division of Barclays Bank Group.

    Burke appears to be stepping into a good situation. Intermagnetics reported a 50 percent increase in first-quarter net income, which came in at $3.6 million (21 cents per diluted share), up from $2.4 million (16 cents per diluted share), a year earlier. Sales for the quarter increased 26 percent to $40 million, from $32 million the prior year.

  • Graham Smith is leaving his post as CFO at Nuance Communications, a Menlo Park, California-based maker of speech recognition technology. Smith, whose resignation becomes effective on January 4, will be replaced (on an interim basis) by vice president and controller Bill Dewes. The company has initiated a search for a permanent replacement.

    Nuance is not exactly lighting up the tote board of late. Total revenue in the third quarter came in at $9 million, down from $15 million in the same period the previous year. All told, the company lost $11 million (35 cents per share) in the third quarter.

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