Whole Foods: Value Brand’s First Market Not Yet Determined

AUSTIN, Texas (Austin American-Statesman/TNS) -

Despite a report to the contrary, Whole Foods Market said Monday that there are no concrete plans for where its new value brand will launch next year.

In a story posted Friday afternoon, a Portland, Ore., media outlet said the Austin-based organic-foods giant would launch a new chain of value brands next year in the Northwest based on comments made by a worker at a conference.

Not so fast, said Whole Foods spokeswoman Kate Lowery.

“There’s no market for certain at this time,” Lowery said Monday.

In a second-quarter earnings call earlier this month, Whole Foods executives revealed plans to launch a new, but as yet unnamed, chain of smaller, value-focused stores next year to draw more millennials as shoppers.

It said it would reveal little about the plans until this summer. So far, the news has set off a firestorm of speculation, from what the stores could be called to where the brand could launch next year.

In Friday’s story – which began, “Let the speculation begin,” – the Portland Business Journal said a Whole Foods forager for Whole Foods’ Northwest region, Denise Breyley, told a Portland audience a day earlier that they would “be some of the first to pilot this new concept.”

The comments were part of a food forum series. Breyley was also reported as saying the store size would be about 25,000 square feet and carry many of the same Whole Foods products seen at the retailer’s larger stores.

Whole Foods’ average store size is 38,000 square feet. In recent years, it has launched plans for smaller stores, including a 14,000-square-foot store in Prescott, Ariz., and an 18,000-square-foot store slated for a Chicago-area neighborhood.