Whole Foods Explains How Its New Stores Will Be Cheaper

By Mike Pomranz |

© Jim West / Alamy

By now, you’re probably aware that Whole Foods is launching a less expensive chain of sister stores that will go by the name of 365. This is welcome news for lots of consumers who felt priced out of the grocery store chain. But since the 365 announcement, one question has continually lingered: How? How will a brand that convinced us that quality comes at a price suddenly flip our expectations?

Co-CEO of Whole Foods Markets Walter Robb stepped forward with some answers. First and foremost, he wants everyone to know that the new stores, set to open in 2016, won’t lower prices with lower-quality products. Robb told Food Navigator USA the 365 stores will “attack the value, quality proposition in a different way and still maintain the integrity of what Whole Foods Market stands for in the marketplace.”

To translate that CEO doublespeak for you, that means two things: a more curated product selection and lower building and labor costs. On the first point, stores will have less autonomy when it comes to what they stock, meaning 365 will spend less by buying more in bulk. As far as the physical stores themselves are concerned, 365s will look more stripped down than their Whole Foods counterparts.  “There is a lot less marble. There is a lot less steel. There is more wood,” Robb said. These changes allow stores to open and operate more quickly and cheaply. 365 will also use a different labor model, but Whole Foods didn't go into details as to what that means just yet. We'll have to wait and see if, come 2016, these changes will get people spending at least part of their paychecks in the new stores.

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