Amazon announces initial plans for Whole Foods
SEATTLE –– Amazon.com is wasting no time integrating with Whole Foods Market, announcing a raft of changes to the high-end grocer that the company plans to introduce when the $13.7 billion acquisition closes.
The deal will be sealed Monday, Amazon said in a statement Thursday, a day after U.S. antitrust regulators approved the acquisition.
Amazon said it will immediately lower prices on some Whole Foods items — including bananas, eggs, kale, beef, chicken, salmon and avocados—although it didn’t specify him much prices would be cut.
Many observers had expected that move, as the online retailer that made its name offering an abundance of products at low prices linked up with a specialist grocer given the nickname “Whole Paycheck” because of its high prices.
Amazon’s statement detailed a range of other plans for Whole Foods, setting the stage for a rapid integration of the grocer’s more than 460 stores and 87,000 employees just two months after the deal was announced.
Amazon said it will link Whole Foods with Amazon Prime, offering grocery discounts and other benefits to people enrolled in the membership program. Amazon Prime will also replace Whole Foods’ existing loyalty program.
Whole Foods’ house brands, including 365 Everyday Value, will be sold on Amazon.com, including through delivery services like AmazonFresh and PrimePantry.
The plans also show Amazon’s ambitions to use Whole Foods’ buildings to get closer to consumers. The company said it will place lockers — delivery points for online Amazon orders — in select Whole Foods stores, and try other in-store pickup and return options.
More integration will follow, the company said, as it uses its new stores and their supply chains as retail laboratories.
Whole Foods will continue to operate its own brand, and it will keep its Austin, Texas, headquarters and chief executive, John Mackey. Whole Foods will operate under Amazon’s worldwide consumer unit, led by Jeff Wilke.
Amazon cleared its two biggest potential obstacles to the deal Wednesday. First, Whole Foods shareholders, meeting at the Austin headquarters, voted to approve the acquisition. Later, the Federal Trade Commission said it would not pursue an investigation of the deal.