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Whole Foods Market Restructuring Business

Grocer realigns regions, reduces corporate headcount
Lynn Petrak, Progressive Grocer
Whole Foods is making structural changes to address recent industry challenges, according to an April 20 company memo.

Whole Foods Market is streamlining its operations. According to an internal memo obtained by media outlets including The Wall Street Journal and CNBC, the Amazon-owned grocer is consolidating its regions from nine to six and cutting hundreds of corporate jobs.

In the memo, the company’s leadership attributed the restructuring to the challenges and changes of the past few years. “As the grocery industry continues to rapidly evolve, and as we — like all retailers — have navigated challenges like the COVID-19 pandemic and continued economic uncertainty, it has become clear that we need to continue to build on these changes. With additional adjustments, we will be able to further simplify our operations, make processes easier and improve how we support our stores,” the memo noted.

The memo also explained the reasons behind the reduction in regions. The move is designed to improve operational nimbleness, as leaders can make decisions quicker with a more consistent number of stores per region.

From a corporate structure standpoint, the grocer is shifting from category-specific store operations support within its regions to a single field support team. A new supply chain performance management function is also being created within the global supply chain unit, a change that was made to allow stores to focus on customer service. Additionally, the team member services group will be realigned, while other global support teams will be adjusted to improve processes.

As for layoffs, the grocer said that store and facility roles aren’t affected, but several hundred job cuts are planned for certain global and regional support teams. “While change is necessary and healthy for a sustainable business, it can also be very challenging, particularly when it affects the lives of team members. We are committed to supporting all impacted team members through these transitions,” the memo noted.

Earlier this year, Whole Foods CEO Jason Buechel – who took the reins of the grocer last fall – shared the retailer’s 10-year plan. Operational streamlining was previewed in that plan, as Buechel shared that Whole Foods will grow over the next decade by strategically increasing and investing profits and focusing on priorities such as the customer experience and delivering exceptional business performance.

This week’s memo echoed those priorities, concluding: “We are confident these changes will allow us to better support our stores, team members and suppliers: elevate the customer experience: and position Whole Foods Market for continued growth. Most important, these changes will help ensure we deliver on our purpose to nourish people and the planet for decades to come.

The first certified-organic national grocer, Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods has more than 500 stores in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. The company is a wholly owned subsidiary of Seattle-based Amazon, which is No. 2 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.

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