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Wal-Mart not considering a bid for Whole Foods

25 June 2017

But consider: Stop & Shop is the same size as Whole Foods.

Moody's Investors Service expects that over the next several years Walmart's food business will "accelerate at a rapid pace, with buy online/pick-up-in-store its latest weapon". Breezing through the grocer's stores with an app that scans affordable fruits and seafood?

Amazon announced on Friday, June 16, that it will be acquiring Whole Foods (WFM) for $13.7 billion, in an all-cash deal. However, the impact of this deal reaches far beyond these two companies as the stock exchange indicates. Amazon still needs to win regulatory approval to buy Whole Foods and make it through the gauntlet with rival bidders. The purchase is a significant step-up in Amazon's assault on traditional grocery retailers. Whole Foods is fighting to broaden its appeal while preserving its reputation on quality. Both companies race to the bottom on pricing. That's possible because Whole Foods shares closed more than a dollar higher than what Amazon paid on Tuesday. Unlike other industries, volume sales of groceries are essentially fixed as individual appetites aren't growing and the US population expands by only about 1% annually.

It was as clear as day that Amazon would one day acquire a supermarket chain, but nevertheless, the news hit everyone like a bombshell. They will have to do better than just a few stores in selected areas.

Most importantly, selling food is another way for Amazon to attract and retain customers, especially if they're tied to the Amazon Prime subscription service.

"You start by controlling the distribution, now you're in a position that you can control who's invited to the party and who's not", said Thomson, now a partner at consulting firm Buy Box Experts. "Main Whole Foods shoppers were fairly negative, with nearly 43% saying they thought the deal was a bad thing", GlobalData Retail said.

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Amazon is also likely to cut the price of organic products to make them more accessible to a larger consumer base, while funding store upgrades.

Then again, Amazon is the epitome of evil genius. Shoppers skip the checkout line, and their Amazon accounts get automatically charged. Amazon is a technology company as much as it's a retailer, and their capacity to drive digital transformation has led to their dominance in e-commerce. In contrast, Whole Foods is intimidating to customers seeking affordable prices: it has a strong brand but also high prices.

"Whole Foods has a loyal following as a niche retailer", she said.

And in turn, the company could revive its recently stalled ambitions to expand to 1,200 US stores. Kroger has almost 2,800 stores that operate under a variety of names.

With Whole Foods, Amazon gets an established business that it can transform through its technology and supply network expertise.

Whatever changes Amazon makes, they're likely to be aimed at holding on to Whole Foods' current customers, says Mike Maher, CEO of Presenture, a company that helps food manufacturers sell their products to retailers. "Occasional shoppers were, on balance, more positive than negative". Fresh and prepared foods are the challenge.

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"China is already the largest online grocery market in terms of value in the world so it's really advanced in terms of scale", said Nick Miles, London-based head of Asia Pacific for food and grocery industry research body IGD. Over many years Ocado has been touted by its supporters first as the logical next move for Amazon, and subsequently the logical defence against Amazon; that the United States retailer is becoming multichannel does little to enhance Ocado's attractiveness as a takeover candidate to our minds. Amazon knows a lot about customer behaviour online; now it will be able to marry that to data about habits in physical stores. However, they will need to be quick and develop new business models.

At a town hall with employees, Mackey said he could not yet discuss the plans the companies talked about before the deal was announced.

Another big issue for Whole Foods is that more than 65 percent of its sales are perishable foods. "I think history would indicate that answer is no", Doubet said.

Stay on topic - This helps keep the thread focused on the discussion at hand.

Sysco and US Foods declined to comment.

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Wal-Mart not considering a bid for Whole Foods