Amazon buying Whole Foods in $13.7 billion deal; grocery stocks tumble

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Amazon is paying $42 per share for Whole Foods, which is a 27 percent premium from Thursday's night close.

Whole Foods has more than 460 stores in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

Since Whole Foods is a publicly traded company it could be scuttled if another bidder decides to offer a lot more money for the grocery chain.

Amazon will gain a footprint of 456 supermarket stores in North America and Britain with the acquisition of Whole Foods, boosting its delivery capacity and allowing it to compete directly with U.S. chains such as Kroger Co and Albertsons LLC.

"This deal should leave no doubt that Amazon is deadly serious about dominating all aspects of retail", said Mr Paul Cuatrecasas, chief executive of Aquaa Partners, a London-based investment banking firm, in an e-mail. Many of them, including local Walmart locations in Springfield, offer curbside pickup, and other stores offer delivery services.

Online retail giant Amazon is making a bold expansion into physical stores with a $13.7 billion deal to buy Whole Foods, setting the stage for radical retail experiments that could revolutionize how people buy groceries and everything else. With a $13.4 billion purchase, Amazon is stepping up its game and hoping to get an even stronger foothold in the retail market.

"The conventional grocery store should feel threatened and incapable of responding", Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter said. Amazon, though its Prime benefits program has created strong loyalty, has a long way to go before it's a default choice in groceries as it often is for books and electronics.

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Whole Foods customer Bethany Capels, 34, of Mendenhall, Miss., loads her Whole Foods Market purchases in her vehicle in Jackson, Miss., Friday, June 16, 2017.

Set up in 1978, Whole Foods, whose stores now span more than 430 locations, has found it hard to attract more mainstream consumers as Walmart and other large chains have stepped up their sales of natural and organic products.

Amazon, meanwhile, has been expanding its reach in goods, services, and entertainment.

Amazon is a beast in the world of online retailers. The acquisition would add Whole Foods' 87,000 employees to Amazon's payroll, which as of the end of the first quarter had 351,000 people. You point out that 24 percent of millennials bought something from Whole Foods past year.

That, in turn, could help Amazon do better with pricing and promotions, branding and the overall store experience, said Robert Hetu, a retail analyst at Gartner. It now delivers fresh food on demand and opening test stores in Seattle. Then it uses sensors, computer vision, and deep-learning technology to track shoppers and what items they pick up. In order for Amazon to get the volume growth they are looking for, fresh foods has to be part of the equation.

"I think that they are a very profit-driven company, so there might be some streamlining as far as labor", said Sasha Hardin, 28, of the Mount Pleasant store, who has been with Whole Foods for 6-1/2 years.

Technology news website Recode reported in April that Wal-Mart was in advanced talks to buy Bonobos and that the company generated $100 million to $150 million in annual revenue.