Whole Foods is laying off 1,500 employees, or 1.6 percent of its workforce, over the next two months as it works on reducing prices for its customers and investing in technology upgrades, the company said.
The announcement comes after the company added over 9,000 jobs last year and announced plans to open over 100 new stores, including its new low-priced sister grocery chain called 365 by Whole Foods Market, which is focused on serving the price-conscious millennial consumer base.
“We believe this is an important step to evolve Whole Foods Market in a rapidly changing marketplace,” said Whole Foods Co-CEO Walter Robb.
The company anticipates that a significant number of laid-off employees will be able to find a new position in the nearly 2,000 open positions across the company and in its new 365 stores.
Post-announcement, the company’s share value fell 1.1 percent by closing time on Monday (Sept. 28), according to USA Today.
Whole Foods’ efforts to cut down on prices comes as the company faces pressure and stiff competition from emerging and existing brands venturing into selling organic and healthy products.
In July, the grocer, which is often quoted for being overpriced, came under fire for overcharging consumers by mislabeling freshly packaged foods at nine of its locations in the New York City area. The company, however, claimed it to be an unintentional mistake.
In another such case, the company was ridiculed over Twitter for selling 16 oz. bottled asparagus water with three stalks of asparagus in it for $5.99 at a Whole Foods store in California. The company later apologized for it and said it was incomplete preparation and so was being taken off the shelf.
The company faced another setback when its stock fell by 10 percent after it missed its earnings goal in the third quarter, USA Today reported.
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