According to a news report in The Wall Street Journal, Amazon-owned Whole Foods Market will close its 365 by Whole Foods store in Bellevue, Washington, which was a smaller format store it launched a little over a year ago.
The store closed this past weekend after being open for around 13 months, an acknowledgment that it is willing to give up concepts and stores that don’t take off as it attempts to gain an edge over competitors under its new owner. According to the paper, the store is the most short-lived location in the history of the organic grocer.
A spokeswoman for Whole Foods told The Wall Street Journal that the company decided to shutter the store ahead of Amazon taking over Whole Foods back in August. Workers will be offered jobs at other locations, she noted. She said Whole Foods is still on board with the 365 concept and will keep the other five open. It is also gearing up to open two additional locations in San Francisco and Brooklyn, reported the paper.
Reviews have been mixed since the launch of the smaller stores, with some locations drawing customers and others struggling. “It’s a testing ground. That’s the real value for them,” said Rupesh Parikh, a senior analyst at Oppenheimer & Co., in the report.
Since Amazon closed on its mega-deal to buy Whole Foods, it has slashed prices and boosted sales. Whole Foods CEO John Mackey recently credited Amazon’s acquisition for the end of his company’s “whole paycheck” nickname. Despite company efforts, the high-end grocer had been unable to shake the association to its higher prices.
“One reason the merger came about is Whole Foods was in a trap, and I couldn’t quite figure how to get out of that trap,” Mackey explained at a recent SNAC International Executive Leadership Forum. “We escaped the trap. I feel a little bit like Houdini.”