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What job cuts at Whole Foods tell us about the grocer’s future

Posted on Sep 28, 2015


Whole Foods Market announced Monday that it was slashing 1,500 jobs over the next eight weeks, a cut that will affect about 1.6 percent of its workforce.

The reduction affects only a small slice of the organic grocery chain’s workforce, and the company expects a “significant percentage” of the employees will be able to find different positions within the company. But the move is noteworthy in that it helps shed light on where the company is headed as competition in the organics business intensifies.

In a statement explaining the job cuts, Whole Foods said that the decision was part of its effort to lower prices for customers and invest in better technology.  And that underscores how essential the company believes it is to reposition itself in a fast-changing grocery environment.

Whole Foods long ago earned the nickname “Whole Paycheck” thanks to its reputation for sometimes eye-popping prices on items such as grass-fed beef and local produce.  But back when it largely had the organic market to itself, it didn’t feel as much pressure to bring down prices.  Now, as consumers have become more interested in healthy eating and are more eager to know where their food comes from, plenty of other retailers are competing for organic grocery shoppers’ dollars.  Kroger, Wal-Mart and Target have developed organics lines that have seen strong sales growth, while chains such as Trader Joe’s and Sprouts Farmers Market have been quickly expanding their fleets. That has pushed Whole Foods to find ways to deliver more value to its customers.

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