Whole Foods Market and Amazon Have Had ‘Many’ Clashes Since Acquisition

Whole Foods Market and Amazon Have Had 'Many' Clashes Since Acquisition
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Things haven’t been completely rosy between Whole Foods Market and Amazon since the acquisition of the natural food chain by the online retail giant last summer, according to a recording of remarks made by Whole Foods CEO John Mackey at a town-hall-style companywide meeting last week.

In the recording, which was obtained by Business Insider, Mackey noted that seeing as he is “ultimately not afraid to get fired,” he has, on more than one occasion, been in a position of defending Whole Foods’ core values and speaking “truth to power when it’s necessary to do so.”

“This is the thing people are most afraid of,” Mackey said in the recording. “It’s like, they love Whole Foods, so they don’t want it to change.”

He noted in his remarks that “Amazon has probably gotten more disagreement from me than any other single person and possibly more than everyone else combined.”

“I have the least amount to lose,” he continued. “I have done this for 40 years, I am financially secure, I love Whole Foods.”

He noted that his defensive instinct has paid off, for the most part.

“Amazon has listened, and they have been very respectful, and they have backed off.”

The Verge reports that while “there’s always a bit of culture clash that comes from major acquisitions like this,” it’s surprising that Mackey would be so forthcoming with Whole Foods employees about these growing pains.

Mackey didn’t just highlight strife at the meeting, however; he also noted that the chain’s same-store sales had shown quite a bit of growth since the $13.7 billion acquisition.

When Amazon acquired Whole Foods last August, the company’s same-store sales had been falling for eight consecutive quarters. While Whole Foods no longer publicly reports sales figures since the acquisition, Mackey said at the meeting that growth was “much better than the media reports.”

“It’s been an incredible year,” Mackey said. “Our increase in sales has been far greater than I anticipated, and it’s continuing.”

Major changes made at Whole Foods Market since the acquisition of the chain by Amazon have included price cuts, centralization and reorganization of buying and merchandising, and the introduction of a series of rewards for Amazon Prime customers. The latest perk, free grocery delivery for Prime subscribers, is currently available in about half of Whole Foods Market stores nationwide.

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Emily Monaco
Emily Monaco

Emily Monaco is an American food and culture writer based in Paris. She loves uncovering the stories behind ingredients and exposing the face of our food system, so that consumers can make educated choices. Her work has been published in the Wall Street Journal, Vice Munchies, and Serious Eats.