One dozen Whole Foods 365 stores is apparently enough for the retailer. Whole Foods will not build any additional 365 stores, which are designed to offer lower prices in a smaller physical footprint, beyond the 12 locations that are already open. CEO John Mackey informed employees of the decision in an internal memo earlier in January, according to Supermarket News.
The Amazon-owned retailer opened the first 365 store in May 2016 in Silver Lake, Calif. The concept was designed to provide lower prices and a more local flavor, delivered in a 25,000- to 30,000-square-foot format offering approximately 7,000 SKUs. Conventional Whole Foods stores average 38,000 square feet, carry more than 20,000 SKUs and typically offer full-service departments such as deli or bakery. The two most recent 365 store openings, in Atlanta and Decatur, Ga., took place in December 2018.
The differentiation between 365 and the standard Whole Foods brand has dissipated as the retailer has lowered its prices, according to the Mackey memo. He claimed that the retailer has been successful in achieving its goals of creating “a more value-focused and streamlined shopping experience that maintained the integrity of Whole Foods’ quality in a convenient format that’s less expensive to build and operate.
“However, as we have been consistently lowering prices in our core Whole Foods Markets stores over the past year, the price distinction between the two brands has become less relevant,” wrote Mackey. “As the company continues to focus on lowering prices over time, we believe that the price gap will further diminish.”
Whole Foods plans to integrate the existing 365 stores into its regional structure and place their employees into new roles.