Tuesday, 21 November, 2017

Amazon buying Whole Foods in bold move into brick and mortar

Amazon makes big move into physical retail with $13.7 billion purchase of Whole Foods Amazon buying Whole Foods in bold move into brick and mortar
Kelvin Reese | 27 June, 2017, 05:30

The Seattle, Washington-based e-commerce company said on Friday, June 16, that it intends to buy Whole Foods for $13.7 billion, a huge capture of brick-and-mortar stores that could expand Amazon's retail business further.

Completion of Amazon's purchase is subject to approval by Whole Foods' shareholders, regulatory OKs and other closing conditions.

While the deal is still to be executed, Whole Foods has pointed out that the brand name would remain the same in the stores, headquarters will remain in Austin and John Mackey will stay on as CEO.

Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos acknowledged the almost four-decade history that Whole Foods has of "satisfying, delighting and nourishing customers", with its natural and organic products. Meanwhile, the more than 460 Whole Foods stores in the U.S., Canada and the United Kingdom could be turned into distribution hubs - not just for delivering groceries but as pickup centers for online orders.

The announcement of the proposed deal sent stock prices for major grocery chains and other retailers tanking Friday. "The checkout-free experience in Go is not yet ready for prime-time as it is still only being beta-tested by AMZN employees, but we believe the Go technology could be rolled out to physical retail, including Whole Foods, over time". The acquisition marks an enormous step for Amazon, moving the company from being a predominantly web-based retailer to one that operates physical stores too.

About 450: Number of Whole Foods stores across the country.

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Roger Davidson, who oversaw Wal-Mart's global food procurement and now is president of Oakton Advisory Group, said the deal will reduce Wal-Mart's brick-and-mortar advantage. Amazon also offers grocery shipments elsewhere, but that's tough with perishable foods.

"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.

Take the restaurant sector, where customer traffic is flat, digital orders are up 45 percent over the last two years. Eleanor McCarthy, who said she lives "near Newburyport", has a son who works for Amazon in Los Angeles.

Some investors may be wondering whether Amazon could disrupt grocery stores the way it upended the bookstore business.

The investment banks that advised Amazon and Whole Foods on this deal (Goldman Sachs, Evercore Partners) will surely make tidy sums if it is approved. Amazon's stock shot up on the news.

By coming under the Amazon umbrella, Whole Foods may develop new methods for distributing food that could also allow it to reach more customers, Eggers says. Access to Whole Foods' warehouses and stores could mean better deliveries and a better position with which to compete with retail chains such as Kroger, Walmart, and Target. Target and Walmart were each down 5 percent. "Add to that the fact that Whole Foods doesn't have the dominant positioning it did even a few years ago, and that makes it even more likely for this deal to go through".

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