AUSTIN, Texas (August 19, 2005). Whole Foods Market (NASDAQ: WFMI), the world's leading natural and organic foods supermarket, today announced plans for a 75,000-square-foot flagship store in Central London on Kensington High Street, expected to open early 2007.
“We are excited to extend the Whole Foods Market mission and brand beyond the United States and Canadian borders and into Europe. The U.K. is an obvious first choice due to the advanced acceptance of organic foods and the lack of a language barrier,” said John Mackey, Whole Foods Market chairman and CEO. “We believe this spacious urban location positions us to duplicate the tremendous success Whole Foods Market has experienced in metropolitan cities in the United States, most notably New York City, by providing Londoners with a fresh and innovative choice in shopping for the most delicious and high quality foods.”The Company acquired U.K.-based Fresh & Wild, a chain of seven natural and organic food stores, in January 2004 and subsequently announced its intention to find a site for a large-format Whole Foods Market store in the London area.
“The success we have seen in the Fresh & Wild stores since acquiring them about 18 months ago created an even higher level of excitement and intensity to find a location for our first large-format Whole Foods Market store in London,” said Jim Sud, executive vice president of growth and business development for Whole Foods Market. “After a heavily focused and disciplined search, we are thrilled to secure a prime location in the heart of Central London. Kensington High Street will be our first step in expanding the Whole Foods Market brand in the U.K. and ultimately into other parts of Europe, where we believe the long-term growth potential is tremendous.”The Company currently operates six stores within the 60,000 to 80,000 square-foot range, with an additional 17 stores of that size in development.
“We are confident about the potential future returns of these larger stores as we believe they appeal to a broader customer base, will take longer to reach maximum capacity, and are less vulnerable to competition as they create a higher barrier to entry,” Sud said.
The company expects to initially employ 400 to 500 Team Members at the Whole Foods Market location in London. Cooking demonstrations, product samplings and in-house eateries will mingle with thousands of the freshest and finest natural and organic offerings in every area of the store, with a focus on procuring foods from local growers, food artisans and manufacturers. And, just as the company has done with its North American locations for the past 25 years, Whole Foods Market will actively become an integral part of the community by sponsoring events, donating food and money to local causes, providing volunteer opportunities for Team Members, and becoming a neighborhood gathering place.
“Our goal is to be the finest food retailer in the area, offering the most exciting shopping experience to our customers in the U.K. and becoming an integral part of the Kensington community,” added Sud.