US organic grocer Whole Foods Market has revived its plans for expansion in the UK as its US business starts to recover from the economic slump.
Whole Foods co-president Walter Robb told the Financial Times that the retailer is seeking sites around half the size of its 75,000 sq ft flagship in London’s Kensington High Street.
“We want to build more stores in London, it’s a fabulous city,” he said. “It’s harder to find real estate there… but we have some stuff there and we’re working on it.”
Whole Foods said last month there had been double-digit like-for-like sales improvement in the most recent quarter at its Kensington store, although it was still operating at a loss.
Last year it created a new UK region, led by Jeff Turnas, previously head of the store region including New York and Boston, who is now based in London. It reined in expansion ambitions as the economy slumped.
Robb said improvement has been made to shed its expensive “whole pay-cheque” image with shoppers and the broader improvement in consumer confidence seen across the retail sector at the end of last year.
“It took some time to begin to change that perception,” he said. This included showing its products provided value for money by issuing money-off coupons and holding special Sale days.
He pointed to the 2.2% increased in organic food sales last year, according to Nielsen, as a sign of a shift.