US retailer Whole Foods Market is opening its first non-food ‘lifestyle’ store in the US, fuelling speculation that its first store to open in the UK may sell organic blue jeans alongside organic baby potatoes.
The natural and organic food retailer is due to open a small-format non-food outlet in California later this month selling earth-friendly clothing and housewares, including recycled handbags and furniture, world music and sweatshop-free t-shirts.
The first UK store, due to open in London in 2007 on the site of the famous House of Fraser-
owned Barkers of Kensington department store, will be one of Whole Foods Markets’ largest at 75,000 sq ft. John Mackey, the founder, chief executive and chairman of Whole Foods Market, this week claimed that the London store would be the best he had ever opened.
However, Richard Ratner, the head of equities at analyst Seymour Pierce, cast doubts over the formula for the UK .
“It’s a good move for House of Fraser to get out. Rates were high and Barkers was going nowhere in terms of turnover. It may be different for a food store, but it is very brave to put foods on a multi-floor layout. It does seem very large given the number of floors, but I’m sure they have done their homework.”
Another analyst said that because Whole Foods Market would have a big square footage to play with, introducing non-food could make sense.
Whole Foods Market declined to comment.