Grocery Stocks Stumble After Amazon's Whole Foods Purchase

Ivan Schwartz
June 18, 2017

June 16 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks fell on Friday as Wal-Mart and other retailers were slammed by Amazon.com's biggest foray into the brick-and-mortar retail sector with its $13.7 billion deal to buy upscale grocer Whole Foods. "This deal has dramatically flipped the table on traditional companies". Hetu said Amazon could make pertinent offers to attract shoppers of one but not the other, or get shoppers of both to buy more. But he says he was going to ask a Whole Foods cashier about the Amazon deal and then hesitated, unsure whether the workers were as excited.

"They're doing an unbelievable job and we want that to continue", Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos said.

Armed with giant warehouses, shopper data, the latest technology and almost endless funds - and now with Whole Foods' hundreds of physical stores - Amazon is set to reshape a US$800 billion grocery market that is already changing rapidly.

The acquisition, expected to close this year, is more than 10 times larger than what Amazon spent on its next-biggest deal, the purchase of online shoe retailer Zappos in 2009.

"I'm excited to see maybe if they do some kind of thing with Prime now and Whole Foods, that would be interesting to me", Hiddeman said. It will take over a natural and organic grocer pioneer with 456 stores, a mecca for young, high-end shoppers, that has been struggling to rein in prices and integrate technology. The logistics of moving fresh food are also complex.

Amazon already has made inroads into the supermarket business with its AmazonFresh grocery delivery service and a prototype checkout-free Amazon Go brick-and-mortar store, so far only open to employees.

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Whole Foods has hundreds of locations all over the country.

Shares of the grocer were trading at $US33.06 a share before the deal was announced, so the deal represents a 27% premium on its closing price yesterday.

John Mackey will remain as CEO of Whole Foods Market and Whole Foods Market's headquarters will stay in Austin, Texas. It announced Friday that it's buying online men's clothing retailer Bonobos for $310 million, following a string of online acquisitions such as ModCloth and Moosejaw. On Friday it soared $9.62, or 29 percent, to $42.68, above the $42 a share Amazon agreed to pay.

"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.

The move may also allow Amazon to expand into adjacent categories such as retail pharmacies, which are mainstays of traditional groceries.

The S&P 500's retail and food categories were hit particularly hard by the news - especially retail businesses who have expanded into the grocery realm in recent years.

Other reports by GizPress

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