Whole Foods Market intends to close the seven Fresh & Wild stores it bought two years ago, but only once each has been replaced with a bigger store under the Whole Foods brand.
Fresh & Wild stores are believed to be too small for the Whole Foods Market concept, which needs space to give customers theatrical retailing.
The US retailer has promised ambitious growth plans that are to begin in earnest once its 75,000 sq ft flagship store, in London, is established.
The first UK Whole Foods Market store will open on the site of the former Barkers of Kensington next year.
When Whole Foods Market bought Fresh & Wild in January 2004 as it looked to gain a foothold in the UK, it outlined plans to eventually open as many as 75 stores of 20,000 sq ft.
Chairman and CEO John Mackey has now disclosed more information about the company’s plans in the UK.
He said: “We’ll do things that people have not seen before. As we open Whole Foods, we want to fold Fresh & Wild into the new stores. There is not much point in having a Fresh & Wild near a Whole Foods.”
The Fresh & Wild stores are about 4,000 sq ft and all but one are in London. Mackey wants to expand a chain across the country and Edinburgh, Bristol, Cambridge and Oxford are among the targets.
Retail design specialist GDR Creative Intelligence MD Kate Ancketill said that if the Fresh & Wilds were to be replaced by Whole Foods stores, staff and customers would not lose out.
“Whole Foods stores are unique and are brilliantly designed. The company also genuinely cares for its staff and impact on a local community.”
Whole Foods Market is understood to be searching for a head of UK marketing.
Fiona McLelland