Online retail giant Amazon is buying US fine foods, fairtrade and organic retailer Whole Foods in a $13.7bn (£10.7bn) deal that marks its biggest push into high street retailing yet.
Amazon, which has been experimenting with selling groceries both here and in the US, will buy the upmarket supermarket for $42 a share.
Founded in 1978 in Texas, Whole Foods was a pioneer of the move towards natural and organic foods.
It has grown to more than 460 stores in the US, Canada and the UK, and employs about 87,000 people. Its nine UK outlets are located in upscale areas in London and surrounding counties.
Amazon founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos said: “Millions of people love Whole Foods Market because they offer the best natural and organic foods, and they make it fun to eat healthy.
“Whole Foods Market has been satisfying, delighting and nourishing customers for nearly four decades – they’re doing an amazing job and we want that to continue.”
Whole Foods has been under pressure from investors amid falling same-store sales and increased competition. Last month, the company named a new chief financial officer and new board members.
The takeover deal is expected to be completed in the second half of the year, pending approval by shareholders and others.
The takeover makes Amazon an instant player in the grocery industry, which it has been eying for some time.
We’ll have more on this story in the July issue of Wholesale News.