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Whole Foods Falls Short of Success In UK

Earlier this month, Whole Foods reported losses of $18.4 million for its UK stores.

In addition to its domestic struggles, the Austin-based natural foods chain has been unsuccessful in its attempt to snag a piece of the UK market share. In the last year, the chain has opened six stores in Britain. The highly anticipated debut was a three-story, 80,000-square-foot emporium that opened on London's High Street last June.

So what went wrong? There are several factors: First, the company set up shop at a time when organic foods were still flying off shelves.

Since the credit crunch occurred, however, the country's sales of organic produce have fallen. Second, the organics industry is well developed and competitive in Britain, and existing stores such as Waitrose and Tesco have developed brand loyalty.

With the economy's downward spiral, it's unlikely that Whole Foods's problems will magically disappear. What do you think about the development? Are you surprised Whole Foods wasn't a success in the UK?


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steamboatdog steamboatdog 8 years
I used to live in London and went to the whole foods on high street all the time. It made me feel like I was back at home because it was so big and had carts and more "American" food options that I missed from home. So I loved it and I didn't find it too much more expensive than anything else in London, because everything there was expensive! But I can see why native brits didn't make the change.
Seka21 Seka21 8 years
i live in the uk and im not suprised at all..I dont know how they can justify the prices they are offering. In croatia where im from simple things like apples and watermellon cost next to nothing to porduce and sell. Dont get me started on the £7.50 bit of 100g cheese the sell. I like the concept of whole foods but im no idiot. I have more money than i need but I will not pay that much for food. In eastern europe all our food is essentially organic and over 60% less.
mafalda_quino mafalda_quino 8 years
Once again, 18 tiny 'organic baby vine tomatoes' (180g) from Whole Foods in London cost me $5.50 (£2.69). Can someone please compare this to U.S store prices? Also, what do they charge for 300g of English mature cheddar? Just interested!:)
Frika Frika 8 years
I'm not surprised. The shopping market in the UK and Europe in general is so different than here. I know whenever I am spending time with my family in The Netherlands, and I go shopping the products I can buy are so much more reasonable than what I imagine Whole Foods could provide. Especially organic, there are so many specialty shops that get great business without crazy prices. In March we went to an organic baker in Maastricht to buy bread and decided to stay and have the "farmer's lunch" three different pieces of organic meat, three pieces of organic cheese, three organic rolls, organic butter, jam, syrup, juice or milk and tea or coffee...EACH! for just 7 euros. sorry to ramble and reminisce. but you wouldn't find that at Whole Foods.
SomethingWicked SomethingWicked 8 years
U mean Whole its expensive to shop there
ilanac13 ilanac13 8 years
that can't be good for the company. see i think that in theory- opening up over there is smart - but the British shopper has different habits than those in the US - so it's always hard to gauge what the success will be out there. oh well. i hope that they are able to turn things around here cause i'll be sad if they close shop anytime soon.
mafalda_quino mafalda_quino 8 years
There's a Whole Foods store near my flat, so I thought I'd try it recently, having been a loyal Waitrose/Ocado customer for ages. Nice selection of things, tempting smelly cheeses, the expected faint sense of smugness in the air (joking!)but the prices are shocking! £2.69($5.50) for 180gr of baby vine tomatoes! That's too much by anyone's standards, even for people that are more than happy to pay near double the price for organic.Definitely sticking with Waitrose!
bigestivediscuit bigestivediscuit 8 years
Not surprised. Not because of the cost, as Waitrose is probably a lot more costly than Whole Foods, but because as Yum has mentioned the existing brand loyalty and the fact that the market for organic produce is already very competitive here (in the UK).
AmberHoney AmberHoney 8 years
No surprise here.
LaurenG22 LaurenG22 8 years
Not surprised. It is EXPENSIVE.
Jude-C Jude-C 8 years
Not surprised at all.
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