Whole Foods continues its work to streamline its business operations in the wake of comparable sales declines.
The supermarket brand recently announced plans to shut down all three of its commercial kitchens in Everett, Mass.; Atlanta, Ga.; and Landover, Md. The closures reportedly affect some 500 jobs, though Whole Foods reportedly said most will find jobs somewhere else with the company or its suppliers.
The closings reportedly don’t have anything to do with last summer’s food safety violations issued by the Food and Drug Administration. Rather, closing the kitchens is just the latest move in a series of attempts by the supermarket chain to cut costs and streamline the company’s operations.
Betsy Harden, a spokesperson for Whole Foods, was quoted by The Wall Street Journal as saying, “As part of our ongoing plan to streamline operations, we have decided to leverage the expertise of our supplier network to create some of the high-quality prepared foods sold in our stores.”
Whole Foods has been working on some big changes as of late. Back in November, after five straight quarters of declines in comparable store sales, Whole Foods dropped one of its two CEOs. Co-CEO Walter Robb stepped down, leaving founder John Mackey as the sole CEO of the company.
Whole Foods also began rolling out a loyalty program around that same time.
For fans of the supermarket’s pre-made meals, don’t fret. Whole Foods reportedly said that all of its 446 stores have on-site cooking or preparation capabilities in some capacity and that it will continue to invest in those — a smart move considering the rise and profitability of grocerants (not to mention their potential knack for bringing back lost foot traffic).
Technomic, a food industry research firm, found that freshly prepared foods generated $15 billion in sales for supermarkets in 2005. By 2016, that figure a figure has reportedly nearly doubled to nearly $28 billion.