July 23, 2017

Here's why Amazon is buying Whole Foods

17 June 2017, 06:43 | Lucia Cruz

Amazon's acquisition of Whole Foods Market sent the stocks of grocery store operators and other companies that compete with Whole Foods plunging Friday.

The high-end American grocer is planning to operate its network of stores under the same brand, and maintain its current executive team.

The deal requires approval by Whole Foods' shareholders and regulators. Sprouts Farmers Market skidded $1.09, or 4.9 percent, to $21.33 and Supervalu sank 50 cents, or 13.3 percent, to $3.26. Headquarters will also stay in Austin, Texas and Amazon says that sourcing trusted vendors for the products that Whole Foods carries will be a continued practice as well.

The deal gives the internet retail giant, which has unrolled a grocery buy-online/home-delivery service in a few major cities, a physical footprint in hundreds of cities across the country.

Drew Herdener, a spokesperson for Amazon, told The New York Times that Amazon has no plans to use this technology to replace the jobs of cashiers at Whole Foods, and no other jobs will be impacted as a result of the deal. "They're doing an awesome job and we want that to continue". While it's true that many companies Amazon has acquired have continued to operate independently, it's hard not to wonder whether we'll start seeing Kindles and Amazon Echos popping up at Whole Foods. The online retailer will pay $42 per share in an all-cash transaction that also includes the supermarket's debt.

"Amazon is going to want to mindful that the antitrust risk is always going to be looming on the horizon", said Hamrick. And it should be able to bring cost-cutting technologies, such as robots to move inventory around, while the company gets a better picture of customers by marrying data from Amazon and Whole Foods' loyalty programs. Kroger, which plunged 19 percent a day ago, lost another $2.27, or 9.2 percent, and hit a three-year low of $22.29.

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In May, under pressure from Jana Partners, Whole Foods replaced five board members and its chief financial officer.

Khan proposed that the USA may need to move beyond short-term well-being of consumer and look at market dominance in a more sophisticated way. Whole Foods was under pressure due to a two-year decline in same-store sales and a fallen stock price over the past year or so - although shares spiked Friday.

But if Amazon can be the one-stop shop for everything - groceries had been one of the key missing elements - customers would have even less of a need to go to Walmart or elsewhere.

"Amazon is an innovative company and we are excited about our partnership". With its stores often placed in well-heeled neighborhoods, the deal makes a "huge leap ahead" possible, said Phil Lempert, a food marketing analyst.

"In a Fox News interview previous year, then-presidential candidate Donald Trump said "[Jeff Bezos has] got a huge antitrust problem because he's controlling so much.

"Amazon realizes that they have a tremendous opportunity here", he said.

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