Whole Foods Market is to open a second UK store, in Birmingham, next year.

The US retailer, whose UK expansion plans have been closely guarded, is understood to have bought a prime retail site in the city and is busy developing it for a 2009 launch.

Nina Shores was appointed last November to head the group's expansion after it opened its first British store in Kensington High Street, London, in June.

"Birmingham has had a significant transformation in recent years, both in retail development and in leisure and housing," said IGD senior analyst Gavin Rothwell. "Selfridges has opened a store there and if Selfridges can make it in Birmingham, anyone can. The key is getting the location right and greater Birmingham has some wealthy areas such as Stratford and Warwick."

Whole Foods Market refused to comment but Rothwell said the retailer had "not come to the UK to operate one store" and is likely to be looking for sites throughout Europe as well as in the UK.