Whole Foods 365 Stopping at 12 Stores

Whole Foods Market has decided to stop expanding its 365 store chain, according to a report by Yahoo! Finance.

Yahoo! Finance reported that CEO John Mackey told employees the existing 12 stores will remain in business, but that, as Whole Foods is lowering prices regardless, it makes little sense for a secondary brand based on lower prices to continue expanding. The report also indicated that Whole Foods seems to be moving in a different direction as it seeks to attract more shoppers.

The original plan for 365 by Whole Foods Market, as WholeFoods Magazine reported in 2015, was to bring healthy foods to a wider audience. Jeff Turnas, president of 365 by Whole Foods Market, said at the time “We are excited to introduce 365 by Whole Foods Market to bring healthy foods to even more communities with a fresh, quality-meets-value shopping experience that’s fun and convenient. A modern, streamlined design with innovative technology and a carefully curated product mix will offer an efficient and rewarding way to grocery shop.”

Jay Jacobowitz, president and founder of Retail Insights, spoke to WholeFoods about the shifting focus earlier this month, when it was reported that Amazon is planning to build and expand Whole Foods stores across the U.S. in the hopes of putting more customers within range of its two-hour delivery service, Prime Now. “While the original Whole Foods Markets catered to natural, organic and foodie customers, Amazon’s goal is to make delivering food quickly to a larger percentage of U.S. households feasible. The reportedly larger, 45,000-square-foot model, compared to the 30,000-square-foot ‘365’ store model, will likely accommodate pickup and delivery space separate from the retail areas.”

A prediction from Jacobowitz: “Watch the shift in the product mix. No longer will Whole Foods closely adhere to its historic high-quality ingredient standard, but will expand to include conventional-quality, high-velocity grocery items.”