AUSTIN, Texas (July 10, 2003) Whole Foods Market (NASDAQ: WFMI), the world's largest natural and organic foods supermarket, today celebrated progress on its new landmark store and world headquarters in downtown Austin. Whole Foods Market's executives and Austin team members joined city officials — including Mayor Will Wynn and City Council Member Betty Dunkerley, and community friends for a celebration where a rendering of the project, located on the block between Fifth and Sixth Streets and Bowie Street and Lamar Boulevard, was unveiled. The “ground digging” event originally planned for June was rescheduled due to inclement weather.
To be completed in early 2005, the 80,000 square foot store will be Whole Foods Market's largest store to date and will showcase exciting new features as yet to be seen in the retail world. Austin residents will also enjoy a community and education center suitable for meetings and cooking demonstrations, a 25,000 square-foot public roof garden and plaza area for eating and entertainment, as well as three-levels of underground parking with escalators equipped to carry grocery carts from the parking garage to the store.
“Our store concept across America has evolved so much since our humble beginnings here over 23 years ago. With the breadth of food retailing knowledge and culinary experience we have today, we are no longer content just to be the best natural foods store but instead aspire to be the finest food retailer in every community we serve,” said John Mackey, co-founder and CEO of Whole Foods Market. “We are proud to be home grown in Austin and we are reaffirming our commitment to our hometown by building the very best food store in the entire country right here in the heart of downtown.”
The company's mission of supporting sustainable agriculture and the environment will continue to be fulfilled by featuring natural and organic foods, which are free of artificial preservatives, colors, flavors, sweeteners and hydrogenated oils. Whole Foods Market's emphasis on the highest quality and best-tasting fresh produce, chef-prepared foods, baked goods, natural meats and sparkling seafood appeals to a variety of customers ranging from health conscious households to aspiring gourmets.
“There is a paradox in American society that people love food and they love to shop, and yet they hate to shop for food. With its inviting atmosphere, this new store in Austin will aim to change that and will take the chore out of shopping and turn it in to a fun, pleasurable experience,” added Mackey. “It will be interactive, educational and full of surprises.”
The new building also will include Whole Foods Market's new world headquarters, a six-story, 200,000 square foot office tower above the market that eventually will provide office space for as many as 700 Team Members. The new space will bring together the national offices and the Southwest Regional offices.
“Whole Foods Market is a great company in a wholesome way that epitomizes the sometimes elusive character of Austin,” said Austin council member Betty Dunkerley. “We are thrilled that they are a major contributor to the revitalization of Austin's downtown building on their commitment to our city as a major employer and a stellar retailer.” Dunkerley and other city officials helped plant a pecan tree at the construction site to symbolize strength, growth, and longevity as well as Whole Foods Market's commitment to agriculture and its Austin roots. Additionally, the pecan tree lends a nostalgic note, as Sixth Street's original name was Pecan Street.
Schlosser Development Corporation's vision for the area, to be called The Market District, includes artistic, cultural and community elements that will be appealing to pedestrians and area neighbors. The Market District will become a four-block urban retail destination in the heart of Austin – all centered around and named after Whole Foods Market, which will be the stand-alone development in its block. Possible features include murals, sculptures, or mosaics, as well as cultural and historical markers. Native plants and landscaping will embellish the pedestrian experience.
This announcement comes at a strong time for the company financially. Celebrating its eleventh year being publicly traded on the Nasdaq Stock Market, the company was also recently added to the NASDAQ-100, comprised of the 100 largest domestic and international non-financial companies traded. Whole Foods Market has produced impressive financial results and seen strong stock price performance, hitting new 52-week highs this year. Same store sales growth has averaged 8.5 percent for the last 10 years and 9.6 percent for the last year, which is higher than any other public food retailer.