BOULDER, Colo. (AP) _ Perry Odak, former chief executive of ice cream maker Ben and Jerry's, will replace Wild Oats Markets Inc. co-founder Mike Gilliland as chief executive of the natural foods retailer.

Gilliland, 42, who led the company's transformation from a ``hippie, vegetarian store'' in Boulder to a publicly held concern with sales of more than $800 million last year, will step down March 19. He will remain on the board.

Odak, 55, served as CEO of premium ice-cream maker Ben and Jerry's Homemade Inc. until late January. He previously held senior executive positions at fragrance and cosmetics company Jovan, electronic game-maker Atari and Color Tile.

The appointment was announced Wednesday.

Wild Oats' stock fell from a high of $23.50 in April to a low of $3.87 in December. In morning trading Thursday on the Nadaq Stock Market, Wild Oats shares were down 16 cents at $7.94.

Gilliland said that with Odak on board, ``We'll see a more professionally managed company.''

Wild Oats has 107 stores in 22 states and Canada,

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Wild Oats site: http://www.wildoats.com