John Mackey, Whole Foods Market

whole foods john mackeyThe August 14 edition of HOMEWORLD BUSINESS® revealed the 12th annual “Players,” people to watch in housewares during the next 12 months.

Selected by HomeWorld Business editors, the Players represent a cross section of a diverse housewares business— from established to newly installed company leaders; from large to small operations, from big-box to specialty retailers; from trade show managers to celebrity endorsers.

The HomeWorld Players are in the spotlight not only for how they might impact their respective organizations in the coming months, but also for how they might impact the overall housewares business.

John Mackey, Whole Foods Market, CEO

PLAYER’S CREDENTIALS: John Mackey co-founded Whole Foods Market, along with his partners Renee Hardy-Lawson, Mark Skiles and Craig Weller, after merging Mackey’s first health food store, SaferWay, with Skiles’ and Weller’s Clarksville Natural Grocery. After fighting off a takeover bid a decade ago, Mackey stepped down as Whole Foods’ chairman in 2009, continuing his hands-on approach as CEO. He directed dramatic expansion in the U.S., as well Canada and the U.K., while preaching his devotion to unfettered organic food access and his free-market Libertarian political views.

Despite his public rebuke of activist investors amid sagging sales and stock performance in recent quarters, Mackey was instrumental in the talks that led to Amazon’s breakthrough agreement to acquire Whole Foods for $13.7 billion. The deal at presstime was under regulatory review.

WHAT TO WATCH: It has been widely reported that Mackey will remain at the day-to-day helm of Whole Foods after the Amazon purchase is completed. Among his biggest challenges, according to industry observers, will be the preservation of Whole Foods’ fervent organic food culture and strict quality standards as Amazon looks to the upscale food chain as the platform for a full-scale, multi-national move into fresh grocery and prepared foods distribution.

PERSPECTIVE: “Whole Foods Market’s quality standards are not going to change,” Mackey told a town hall meeting of Whole Foods employees after the Amazon deal was announced. “We’re going to evolve. We need to evolve. We want make this deal, because we think Amazon can help us evolve quicker and better than we could do on our own. We’re all Amazon people… We’re one large tribe, one large family.”

2018 HomeWorld Business Players (click on name for profile):