More than a dozen executives and senior managers have left Whole Foods since Amazon acquired the organic grocery chain last year.
Citing former employees and recruiters, The Wall Street Journal stated that the employees who departed after the acquisition included leaders of Whole Foods’ bakery, produce, sustainability and local foods divisions.
While some veterans left even after they were asked to stay, others were reportedly forced out after the deal was announced but before it closed.
The personnel changes have caused concerns among both employees and suppliers that Whole Food’s distinctive qualities will get lost under Amazon’s ownership.
“Culturally, it’s been a rough start,” said a procurement veteran who left Whole Foods earlier this year after nearly a decade.
Some of the issues include top Whole Foods managers’ unhappiness at reporting to younger Amazon executives and the eCommerce giant’s lack of transparency in its plans for the grocer. In addition, there seems to be differences on issues such as promoting and grooming talent, and figuring out whether it’s more important to focus on the needs of customers or employees.
Additionally, suppliers have complained that new hires have been slow to learn Whole Food’s techniques for sourcing and marketing products.
To be fair, departures are common after mergers. And Amazon and Whole Foods have hosted town halls for store employees to share their concerns and ease the transition.
Whole Foods Chief Executive and Co-Founder John Mackey and Steve Kessel, an Amazon senior vice president who oversees the grocer, also shared in separate statements that Whole Foods has thrived since the acquisition.
“We ... have maintained our distinctive culture while embracing many of Amazon’s leadership principles,” Mackey said.
“We are off to a great start, and look forward to many years of future success together,” Kessel added.
One of those successes could be a planned Whole Food pickup service. A recent job posting revealed that the market is getting ready to offer a service that will enable customers to order items not only from the organic grocery, but also from select retailers.
Earlier this year, Amazon launched two-hour grocery delivery from Whole Foods through its Prime Now mobile app.