The largest natural and organic foods retailer in the US, Whole Foods Market, will begin a programme to open as many as 75 large 20,000 sq ft stores in the UK once it completes the $38m acquisition of UK organics retailer Fresh & Wild in the next few days.
The Texas-based retailer generates annual sales of $3.1bn from 145 stores in the US, ranging from 8,600 sq ft to 79,000 sq ft and chairman and CEO John Mackey said it was actively seeking sites in London to open its first large format store.
The UK will represent Whole Foods first expansion outside the US and Canada. “We believe an acquisition is the right strategy for our first overseas venture,” said Mackey. “The UK market offers an advanced acceptance of organics, a well developed supply chain and a lack of language barriers.”
He added that the acquisition would act as a platform to open between 10 and 75 large store formats in the UK.
Whole Foods will maintain the Fresh & Wild fascia on its existing estate but new stores will be branded Whole Foods Market. Meanwhile, Brian Meehan will step down as chief executive of Fresh & Wild and will be replaced by a new regional vice-president.