Q&A - I worked on the Amazon / Whole Foods acquisition

Hi WSO!

Since the Amazon/Whole Foods acquisition seems to be the "hot topic of the day", I figured I'd help pay back the community for all the guidance and advice I've received from this forum over the many years.

I am one of the employees with direct insight into the Amazon / Whole Foods deal when the acquisition went down. I am relatively senior (store manager and a specific department head) at our location in Portland, and was amongst one of the first people to hear about the deal after it was announced. Our store is one of the larger and more "well respected" locations in the north-east region. Happy to answer any questions you guys have about this deal!

Comments (43)

 
Jun 16, 2017 - 7:55pm

How would you describe and assess Amazons strategic considerations regarding this deal? Why did they acquire Whole Foods specificially and not another grocery retailer? Thanks for the AMA!

 
Jun 16, 2017 - 9:11pm

kenofarabia:

How would you describe and assess Amazons strategic considerations regarding this deal? Why did they acquire Whole Foods specificially and not another grocery retailer? Thanks for the AMA!

Thanks for the question kenofarabia!

I think there are many reasons Amazon decided to buy Whole Foods. First, we have one of the largest selection of all natural and organic foods out of any large-scale supermarket chain in the U.S. We have a very strong reputation in "healthy" foods, which is where I see the U.S. consumer preferences trending! I think this is evidenced by the fact that we often have some of the highest traffic of any of the nearby food establishments during the lunch hour. Also, I can tell you for a fact that, at least in my department (seafood), we get almost all our items fresh, the same day!

 
Jun 17, 2017 - 4:05am

Amazon just purchased 431 prime location distribution centers in upper income areas to use as they choose. That's why they chose WFM.

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Jun 17, 2017 - 12:03am

What exactly did you work on in respect to the acquisition.....

EBITDA rules everything around me

 
Jun 16, 2017 - 9:13pm

bankerboy252:

What exactly did you work on in respect to the acquisition?

Thanks for the question bankerboy252!

I am the head of the seafood department as well as one of the general store managers in Whole Food's Portland, ME location! I have a lot of insider insight with regards to how Whole Foods thinks, what our culture is like, things like that!

 
Jun 16, 2017 - 9:14pm

Teller:

This is the equivalent of taking investment advice on consumer/retail stocks from the janitor of Tiffany's flagship store

Thanks for the comment Teller!

While I don't see a question in your post, if you want to know anything in particular about this acquisition, please let me know and I'll do my best to answer what I can!

 
Jun 21, 2017 - 5:46pm


Any opinion on the markets today about why Whole foods price trading over what Amazon's willing to pay ? You feel you got shortchanged ?

Thanks for the question [email protected]!

While Whole Foods prices may be higher than your average grocery store, we make up for it by quality. We have a much higher selection of organic and all-natural foods that you won't find at your typical grocery store! We also have large selections of imported foods and more niche foods that you wouldn't be able to find elsewhere! This is a reason we're one of the highest trafficked stores in the area!

I would also say that your worry about being short-changed is unwarranted. Most of the transactions we handle in our store (probably 80%+) are done via credit card, so the customer always only pays the exact amount. Even if you decide to pay with cash, our associates are among the top-trained, and rarely make mistakes! I hope that assuages your concerns!

 
Jun 17, 2017 - 12:38pm

Brother, that's not what he asked.

Valiant effort though to persuade me to go to whole foods, I will say.

I will be purchasing 3 locations tonight.

 
Jun 17, 2017 - 12:20pm

Big4please:

Did you go to a target OP? I'm guessing top 7 MBA to manage a department right? I went to a nontarget do you think I could work the meat counter?

Thanks for the question Big4please!

We are always hiring! While I'm not sure which specific store you are targeting, I would suggest walking into the store and asking to speak with a manager or asking for an application! If you are in the north-east area, I'm happy to ask around our meat department for you!

 
Jun 17, 2017 - 7:06am

While this is likely a troll and the comments are making fun of the poster you realize once you start working in an investing role talking to former employees (whether in a corporate or store level role) can be way more insightful on what's going on than talking to some banker (analyst to MD) who put together strategic rationale for a deal. They actually have an understanding of the internal operations and their opinions are often more telling on what is actually happening in the businesses.

Array
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Jun 17, 2017 - 8:40am

How do/did you perceive Jana Partners involvement with Whole Foods? Not necessarily only for the deal.

I'm talking about liquid. Rich enough to have your own jet. Rich enough not to waste time. Fifty, a hundred million dollars, buddy. A player. Or nothing.

See my Blog & AMA

 
Jun 17, 2017 - 10:29am

For all the Deadspin readers: this is good kinja.

"Son, life is hard. But it's harder if you're stupid." - my dad
 
Jun 21, 2017 - 5:29pm

blumie is one of the all time best, see his post history

WSO's COO (Chief Operating Orangutan) | My Linkedin

 
Jun 17, 2017 - 12:22pm

rj1443:

will i now be able to over pay for fresh veggies that will be delivered in 2 days, or will they now be drone delivered?

Thanks for the question rj1443!

Unfortunately, I don't have much insight on the Amazon stuff, but I'm happy to answer questions about Whole Foods!

 
Jun 22, 2017 - 1:45pm

persianversion:

What are the exit opps like from your group? Is it mostly relationships/pitching or execution? What has your placement been into HF and PE?

Our locations are all up to code - trust me, the Fire Marshall does annual inspections, which are always a huge PITA. Regardless of your preferred location, you can be assured that there are sufficient normal as well as emergency exits in the event of a fire or other potential panic-situation.

With regards to relationships, we have very strong relationships to the top and most exclusive vendors in the area. I can't speak for every location, but here in Portland, we get our clams directly from one of the top clammeries in Ipswich that are brought in fresh daily, lobsters directly from local suppliers in Maine, and some of the freshest fish you could find anywhere directly from the Boston Harbor. I'm proud to say our seafood department rivals probably any in the country, and I won't be modest and pretend I didn't have a very direct impact to the success of the department!

 
Jun 22, 2017 - 2:16pm

Blumie, one of the greatest trolls in WSO history although I believe the title of greatest belongs to swagon, my name is goldstein and FratLord you guys could learn so many things from OP.

Array
  • 3
 
Jun 22, 2017 - 9:55pm

Dude, aren't you literally gay?

BobTheBaker:

As a gay man living in America

Edit: Yep, lol I found it. You could learn a thing or two about vaginas from me, son.

 
Jun 22, 2017 - 2:49pm
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