(Adds details on closing stores, working with data, executive
By Lisa Baertlein
Feb 8 Whole Foods Market Inc on
Wednesday said it is closing some stores and increasing use of
customer data to improve results after cutting its full-year
sales and profit forecasts after posting its sixth straight
quarter of same-store sales declines.
Shares in the organic and natural food grocer were down 2.1
percent in extended trading.
"We're examining every aspect of our retail operations,"
Whole Foods co-founder John Mackey, who recently resumed the
role of sole chief executive officer after the departure of
co-CEO Walter Robb, said on a conference call with analysts.
Whole Foods has been battling intense competition from
rivals that include Kroger Co and Wal-Mart Stores Inc
, as well as new competitors such as Amazon.com Inc
and meal kit provider Blue Apron.
The company has been lowering prices and experimenting with
its value-oriented 365 by Whole Foods Market chain, as it tries
to shed its unflattering "Whole Paycheck" nickname.
Mackey said the company is "doubling down" on its most loyal
customers, continue to lower prices and taking other steps to
improve profitability and efficiency.
"What has become clear is that we don't want to compete in a
'race to the bottom' as consumers have ever increasing choices
for how much and where they shop," Mackey said.
Whole Foods has closed one commissary kitchen and will be
closing nine stores and the company's last two remaining
commissary kitchens in the current quarter. It also terminated
Mackey said the majority of the stores slated for closure
were smaller, older acquisitions and that shuttering them should
Whole Foods also is teaming up with dunnhumby, a private,
wholly owned consumer data subsidiary of Tesco Plc, in a bid to
catch up with Kroger and other rivals that already use such
information to improve merchandising and personalize offers to
The organic and natural food grocer on Wednesday said
same-store sales fell a sharper-than-expected 2.4 percent in the
fiscal first quarter ended Jan. 15, the sixth straight quarterly
drop. That decline accelerated to 3.2 percent for the current
second quarter through Feb. 5.
Whole Foods it expects sales for the year to rise 1.5
percent or greater, compared with its previous forecast of
growth of 2.5 percent to 4.5 percent.
It also cut its profit forecast for the year to $1.33 per
share or greater, from its previous view of $1.42 or greater.
First-quarter revenue rose 1.9 percent to $4.92 billion from
a year earlier.
Net income fell to $95 million, or 30 cents per share, from
$157 million, or 46 cents per share, a year earlier.
The company said it incurred a charge of about 9 cents per
share in the quarter, related to Robb's separation agreement and
store closures. It expects to incur an additional charge related
to the closures of about 6 cents per share in the current
(Reporting by Lisa Baertlein in Los Angeles and Jessica
Kuruthukulangara in Bengaluru; Editing by Matthew Lewis and Alan