Amazon plans to add Whole Foods stores

Amazon plans to reverse the slowing growth and layoffs at Whole Foods that marked the years before the e-commerce giant took over the supermarket chain.

Amazon is planning to build and expand Whole Foods stores across the U.S. to put more customers within range of the e-commerce giant’s two-hour delivery service, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The push would bring Whole Foods to more suburbs and other areas where the natural grocer is quickly adding customers since the merger in 2017.

Amazon and Whole Foods declined to comment on new store construction or spending.

One person familiar with the plans said, Whole Foods employees have visited potential retail spaces in parts of Idaho, southern Utah and Wyoming, where the grocer doesn’t have stores now.

Amazon offers Prime Now, a two-hour delivery option to members of its Prime subscription service in more than 60 cities, and online grocery pickup from Whole Foods stores in as little as 30 minutes from nearly 30 cities.

Amazon plans to expand those services to nearly all of its roughly 475 Whole Foods stores in the U.S., according to another person familiar with the plans.

Amazon said in September that it was raising its minimum wage—including at Whole Foods—to $15 an hour, and that it would restore a practice of making stock grants to Whole Foods employees.

While sales have grown at Whole Foods, one of the people close to the company said that profit hasn’t. Prime discounts have hurt margins at Whole Foods.

Amazon is focused for now on getting Prime programs running across Whole Foods stores, according to the people.