Amazon.com to acquire Whole Foods at US$42 per share

Posted June 22, 2017

Shares of many grocers and retailers slumped Friday after Amazon announced a $14 billion deal to buy high-end grocery chain Whole Foods Market.

"Millions of people love Whole Foods Market because they offer the best natural and organic foods, and they make it fun to eat healthy", Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said in a statement.

Armed with giant warehouses, shopper data, the latest technology and almost endless funds - and now with Whole Foods' hundreds of physical stores - Amazon is set to reshape a US$800 billion grocery market that is already changing rapidly.

Can Amazon, the company that persuaded people to buy ever more items online, win enough of them over to having their fresh groceries arrive in an Amazon box?

But in February, Whole Foods said it no longer saw the potential for expanding its flagship chain to 1,200 locations, up from about 460 in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.

Under the Amazon deal, it would continue operating stores under its Whole Foods banner, co-founder John Mackey would remain CEO, and Whole Foods would stay headquartered in Austin, Texas.

The Journal said buying Whole Foods allows Amazon to quickly grab a bigger portion of the estimated $674 billion USA market for edible groceries, according to consulting firm Kantar Retail. Only expectedly so, as grocery stores in the last few years have been fighting online as well as overseas players coming into the industry.

Amazon would also look to change Whole Foods' inventory, introducing its own private-label products to replace items deemed too expensive to have mass appeal, the person with knowledge of the matter said.

Rain, thunderstorms in area forecast as tropical moisture moves north
The National Hurricane Center (NHC) forecast has it tracking toward the Gulf Coast in the area of the Louisiana-Texas border. Kay Ivey issued a statewide state of emergency in preparation for anticipated severe weather and flash flooding this week.

A Moody's analyst described the Amazon-Whole Foods deal as a "transformative transaction, not just for food retail, but for retail in general". Gartner retail analyst Robert Hetu said Amazon could bring pieces of that to Whole Foods to further cut costs.

$42: Per share price for Amazon's purchase.

Whole Foods customer Bethany Capels, 34, of Mendenhall, Miss., loads her Whole Foods Market purchases in her auto in Jackson, Miss., Friday, June 16, 2017.

Since Whole Foods is a publicly traded company it could be scuttled if another bidder decides to offer a lot more money for the grocery chain.

The deal sent shockwaves across the food distribution market and beyond. When they take something off the shelf and put it in their cart, it registers in their account.

Amazon's use of aggressive pricing strategies and vertical integration has allowed it to dominate competition, and has recently been looking to expand beyond its role as an e-commerce giant.

Whole Foods, known for its selection of organic foods, has one store in the Santa Clarita Valley, in the Valencia Crossroads shopping center on Valencia Blvd.

RICH TARRANT: Consumer purchases in a grocery space is, you know, $600-billion industry that has yet to be massively disrupted by online.