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TALK AIN'T CHEAP

Whole Foods is firing 1,500 workers to offer you lower prices

Amy X. Wang
By Amy X. Wang

Reporter

Whole Foods Market, otherwise known as “Whole Paycheck,” is hoping lower prices on its health-conscious, artisanal fare will boost its reputation with disgruntled customers. Part of its plan to bring down those prices, apparently, is to fire a chunk of its staff.

The company announced today (Sept. 28) that it will cut 1,500 jobs, or roughly 1.6% of its workforce, in the next eight weeks to bring down costs. The company said that many cuts will come through “natural attrition,” and that affected team many members will likely find new jobs in some of the nearly 2,000 open positions in the company, or new ones that will be created by the roll-out of the store’s new budget chain.

In a statement, co-CEO Walter Robb called the move a “difficult decision” that is also an “important step to evolve Whole Foods Market in a rapidly changing marketplace.”

The upscale grocery chain has taken a big hit from an overpricing scandal in California last year, along with another in New York this summer. New York City’s Department of Consumer Affairs found that prices on its pre-packaged items (think vegetable platters and sushi) were illicitly hiked by as much as $6.15. “Straight up, we made some mistakes,” Whole Foods co-CEO Walter confessed in an apology video after the investigation went public.

Meanwhile, growing competition from other organic grocers has put pressure on the company to prove its value (which ridiculous products like these have failed to do).

Whole Foods did not specify which types of roles would be affected. But it’s a swift about-face—and a sign of desperation—for a company that had added 9,000 jobs in the last year.

 

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