Whole Foods wants to close Fresh and Wild in London after opening new store
by Redaktion (comments: 0)
Near Kensington Palace workers are constructing the world's biggest organic department store. After 135 years, Barkers of Kensington, west London's oldest and grandest department store (picture), is under new management. John Mackey, a scruffy-haired American vegan, has bought Barkers and is turning it into the first British branch of his store, Whole Foods Market, reports the Online Magazine of the British Observer.
The supermarket chain is the food-retail phenomenon of the USA. While most food giants are piling it high and selling it cheap, Whole Foods is focusing on quality at high prices - and reaping the profits. The firm sells organic and chemical-free food at prices far higher than its rivals, but the speed of its growth has made it America's fourth-largest chain and the world's biggest, and most profitable, organic grocer. Mackey is doing for US supermarkets what Pret A Manger's Julian Metcalfe did for British sandwich bars - mixing natural ingredients and customer service in a way that appeals to consumers who want something better for themselves and the environment and are willing to pay more to get it.
With high ceilings, natural wood and well-lit, wide aisles, the design will be a cross between M&S Simply Food and Selfridges. Trolley escalators will take shoppers and their carts up and down the three-storey store. Customers will be given a choice of eco-friendly carrier bags. They will even be able to get a massage. Perhaps boldest of all, Mackey wants to teach the British consumer a new way to queue. Instead of lining up behind a single till and hoping the queue moves more quickly than the others, Whole Foods' shoppers form four parallel lines and wait for a real-life - not an electronic - queue caller to direct them to the one of a 30-strong bank of cashiers. He claims the new system will serve a shopper every four seconds.
Mackey arrives back in London next month to finalise plans for his organic invasion, according to the article of the Observer. He has bad news for Fresh & Wild, however. 'As we open Whole Foods, we want to fold Fresh & Wild (picture) into the new stores. There is not much point in having a Fresh & Wild near a Whole Foods.'
Fresh & Wild, though, is a popular chain, and closing it down is a risky way to start a retail revolution. But Mackey is not worried. 'Fresh & Wild is a London thing and we are looking across the UK, to open in Edinburgh, Bristol, Cambridge, Oxford. Whole Foods is unique. Fresh & Wild stores do phenomenally well for their size but when customers see what we are doing in Whole Foods, they won't think twice.'