Whole Foods’ Mackey Hints At New Formats, Sharper Customer Focus

As the retail world continues to digest Amazon’s move to acquire Whole Foods, the first inkling of what the deal could mean for the upscale grocer was offered by its CEO, John Mackey.

During a town hall meeting with Whole Foods employees on June 16, the day Amazon announced its intention to purchase Whole Foods for $13.7 billion, Mackey noted that while there will be some changes for the company, other things will remain the same. A transcript of the town hall meeting was released by Whole Foods in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing.

“Our quality standards are staying the same,” he said. “They love our quality standards. We’ve got a lot invested in our brand, and these (Amazon) guys are really smart people.”

Mackey said the potential does exist that over time that other formats could evolve that wouldn’t be branded Whole Foods, but did not offer further thoughts on what those formats could be.

The Whole Foods CEO said he does feel Amazon will have a positive impact on the grocer’s level of customer service, saying that Amazon is “more customer-centric than we are.”

“I think, sometimes, our company has gone a little bit too much team member focused at the expense of our customers,” he said. “That’s one definite evolution that’s going to happen. I love the passion these guys have around the customer. They put the customer first in everything they do, and we’re going to be the same way.”

Mackey noted the seeds for the deal, which is expected to close in the second half of 2017, were planted within the past two months when he and other Whole Foods executives met with Amazon officials in Seattle.