Whole Foods slashes 1,500 jobs, Fayetteville opening postponed

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 115 views 

Whole Foods Market will eliminate approximately 1,500 jobs, or 1.6% of its workforce, over the next eight weeks, the company said in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Sept. 28.

The Austin-based grocery retailer said the reductions are part of an ongoing commitment to lower prices and invest in technology upgrades while improving cost structure.

Whole Foods said many of the jobs will be managed through attrition and expects a significant number of affected employees may find jobs from the nearly 2,000 open positions created from the more than 100 new stores in development. Whole Foods said it has added more than 9,000 new jobs in the past year and has created nearly 35,000 over the past five years.

“This is a very difficult decision, and we are committed to treating affected team members in a caring and respectful manner,” said Walter Robb, co-chief executive officer of Whole Foods. “We have offered them several options, including transition pay, a generous severance, or the opportunity to apply for other jobs. In addition, we will pay these team members in full over the next eight weeks as they decide which option to choose. We believe this is an important step to evolve Whole Foods Market in a rapidly changing marketplace.”

The retailer has also postponed the opening of its Fayetteville store which was supposed to open next month. Company officials have said they will open the store on North College Avenue in the first quarter of 2016.

Fayetteville city leaders are disappointed to see the delayed store opening as they anticipate the retailer will be a big attraction for the city and major boost to its sales tax revenue.

For the third quarter ended July 5, Whole Foods had net income of $154 million, equal to 43 cents per share on the common stock, up 2% from $151 million, or 41cents per share, for the prior-year period. Sales increased 8% to a record $3.632 million for the quarter from $3.377 million the year before.

The company reported a slowdown in same-store sales in the wake of negative publicity following an audit that found the retailer had been mislabeling weights and overcharging customers in New York for prepackaged food.