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18 June 2017, 12:30 | Lena Norman
Whole Foods Market will continue to operate stores under the Whole Foods Market brand and source from trusted vendors and partners around the world.
"The ramifications for all of retail are seismic - not just retailers that sell grocery, but for everyone", Gordon Haskett analyst Chuck Grom said.
Groceries are already a fiercely competitive business, with low-priced rivals like Aldi putting pressure on supermarket chains and another discounter, Lidl, opening its first US stores just this week. Moreover, the analyst believes that the announcement has far-reaching consequences for all food retailers as well as the retail space as a whole. Earlier this year, Target named former Kroger executive Jeff Burt to overhaul its struggling food retail business. Amazon also offers grocery shipments elsewhere, but that's tough with perishable foods. And the Whole Foods deal gives Amazon strong industry knowledge, something it knows it's lacking, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.
"The conventional grocery store should feel threatened and incapable of responding", Pachter said. For example, when it comes to buying fresh food, we like to feel, see and touch the fruits and vegetables we're buying. It has just two of its own Amazon Fresh Pickup locations in Seattle.
Whole Foods has posted seven straight quarterly sales declines at established stores and recently overhauled its board of directors in the face of pressure from activist hedge fund Jana Partners LLC.
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Americans have been slowly moving toward online grocery shopping.
Amazon and Whole Foods take diametrically opposite approaches to pricing. The Whole Foods purchase may help it resolve that issue. The store uses sensors to track items as shoppers put them into baskets or return them to the shelf. The idea is to gravitate away from the "Whole Paycheck" perception for high prices that has dogged Whole Foods, the person said.
Amazon spokesman Drew Herdener said plans do not include reducing jobs as the result of the deal and that the company does not plan to automate Whole Foods cashiers jobs with Amazon Go technology. Whole Foods will keep operating stores under its name. And the key measure that retailers look at to gauge their health, revenue at stores open more than a year, has fallen for seven quarters in a row.
Indeed, shares of Cincinnati-based Kroger, which plummeted 19 percent Thursday after the company slashed its earnings guidance, continued tumbling on Friday. That prodding irked Mackey, who has referred to Whole Foods as his "baby" and to Jana as "greedy bastards".
The Amazon and Whole Foodsnews even had an impact overseas.
"It's amusing. I was just ordering something on Amazon", said Nick Yezierski, a hotel manager who was eating breakfast outside the Whole Foods flagship store in Austin, Texas. The parties expect to close the transaction during the second half of 2017.
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