Amazon unveiled plans to buy Whole Foods Market in its biggest food and supermarket acquisition to date. The multi-billion pound chain confirmed the buy-out of Whole Foods for a mammoth $13.7 billion (€12.2 billion – £10.7 billion).
The Seattle-based retailer, which sells just about everything from pet food, to fashion, jewellery, electronics and TV shows, said it had long been considering the takeover in its bid to push into the grocery market, with discussions as recent as last autumn. Amazon will buy the organic food chain for $42 dollars (€37.51 – £32.80) per share – but will continue to operate stores under the Whole Foods brand. Whole Foods currently has 460 stores across the U.S., Canada and the U.K., with nine of them in Britain, namely dotted around the capital. The grocery store – which specialises in healthy, vegan and eco-products – will continue operating under the Whole Foods name, the company's headquarters will remain in Austin.
Co-founder John Mackey will stay on as Whole Foods CEO. In a statement, Mackey said: "This partnership presents an opportunity to maximise value for Whole Foods Market’s shareholders, while at the same time extending our mission and bringing the highest quality, experience, convenience and innovation to our customers." Amazon CEO 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." Maria Prados, VP at online payments platform, Worldpay, added: "Amazon’s move to buy Whole Foods is a clear sign of its intention to disrupt the grocery industry globally. From the 'Dash' buy button, to the launch of the AmazonFresh service last year, the e-commerce giant has been taking clear steps to build its position in the grocery sector. And investing in a physical presence could be the key to Amazon’s success in this space.”
“With one in ten Brits now doing all their grocery shopping online*, it is now easier than ever to buy household necessities from the comfort of our sofa. We have reached a tipping point in the evolution of the UK grocery market, and it will be interesting to see whether Amazon will continue to focus on their culture of convenience and reliability, or whether they will end up creating a whole new online shopping experience, taking the chore out of the weekly shop.”
Amazon's latest shock announcement comes just days after the firm teased of plans to emerge in the cars market – with reports claiming sales will be piloted on its U.K. website, before being rolling out to other countries, if successfull. According to claims leaked on German website, Automobilwoche, the new service will be based in Luxembourg but will start its operations in the U.K. first. Amazon recently recruited Christoph Moeller, a motor industry expert at consultancy Oliver Wyman. It's not the first time Amazon has dipped into the automobiles industry. In Italy last year it partnered with Fiat Chrysler to sell the Fiat 500 and the Panda on its Italian website. According to Auto Express, Amazon cars could allow customers to order their motors online and have it delivered to a nearby dealer.