Amazon eyes big serving of U.S. grocery pie

For Whole Foods workers, fears of robots, drones and culture clash

For Whole Foods workers, fears of robots, drones and culture clash

In Whole Foods, it is acquiring a company that has recently come under pressure from investors for its lagging performance.

Shares of dozens of supermarkets, food producers, payment processors and shopping malls collectively lost at least $35 billion in US market value on Friday as the news reverberated across financial markets.

One of Amazon's most powerful e-commerce rivals is Wal-Mart Stores Inc (NYSE:WMT), the largest retailer in the world by revenues ... and also the largest grocery retailer in the U.S. Heading into Friday, though, the narrative was less Amazon competing with Walmart on the ground, but instead the big-box retailer bringing the fight online. Indeed, shares in competitors sank in early NY trading. Whole Foods shares rose above the offer price to close at $42.68. Anderson advised Whole Foods alongside senior Evercore bankers Eduardo Mestre and William Hiltz. It's easy to imagine that Amazon might later decide to integrate this technology from its warehouses to its Amazon Go shops, and probably Whole Foods stores, too.

Whole Foods has been lagging in the move to online commerce - its stores are in urban markets.

Amazon declined comment on competition with Walmart but spokesman Drew Herdener said in a statement the company has no plans to cut jobs or use technology in development at its Seattle Amazon Go store to automate jobs of cashiers. "Books are lot more homogenous", she said, noting that a hardcover Harry Potter book is the same at Amazon - though Amazon can sell it at a lower price. Amazon's move aims at the heart of the Bentonville, Arkansas-based retail giant's business - groceries, which account for 56 percent of Wal-Mart's $486 billion in revenue for the year ending January 31.

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The deal, which began when Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos approached Whole Foods CEO John Mackey about the aquisition, was brokered and advised by Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

But Whole Foods, which has been feeling the heat to bolster its stock for more than a year, has a new owner with cash to burn, significant technological expertise, and a willingness to invest aggressively in a quest for dominance of a brand new sector.

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Excluding debt, the deal is valued at US$13.39 billion, based on 318.9 million diluted shares outstanding as of April 9. Whole Foods is courting the discount shopper with its lower cost brand 365.

Amazon sent shockwaves through the business community Friday when it announced its purchase of supermarket chain Whole Foods.

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"Amazon's brutal vision for retail is one where automation replaces good jobs". It has expanded from a book seller into a merchant of almost all consumer products, as well as producing videos.

Also, consider the purchase of Whole Foods from another perspective: kingslaying.

While doubters will point to Whole Foods' revenue stagnation and falling net income, that's not really the issue. Whole Foods was, however, costlier in 1992 as compared to today (keep the times in check) and it has been reducing the prices to keep the sales in check.

Convenience. More of our shopping visits are digitally enabled, and this is going to continue to grow.

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