Less than two years after purchasing Whole Foods Market (WFM), increasingly not-online retail giant Amazon looks to be eying yet another chain of grocery stores, according to reporting from the Wall Street Journal.
Two grocery chains may seem like overkill to consumers, but WFM made its name on only stocking items within specific parameters—like its blanket ban on foods with artificial colors, for instance. A second grocery chain would allow Amazon to carry a wider variety of edibles.
While the WSJ’s sources claim the new, unnamed chain is not meant to cut into WFM’s market, Amazon’s decision to sign leases on at least three locations comes less than a week after it dropped the Whole Foods 365 concept. The small-format 365s, which potentially clashed with the cashierless Amazon Go convenience stores, are slated to convert to regular Whole Foods locations.
The first of the new grocery chain stores is said to be opening in Los Angeles, with Amazon also reportedly in talks to expand to D.C., San Francisco; Chicago, Philadelphia, and its home city of Seattle.
Amazon declined to comment on the WSJ report, citing its policy to not “comment on rumors or speculation.”
In addition to these various food plays, Amazon has also gobbled up 17 brick-and-mortar locations for physical book stores (a genre of local business the retailer is credited with helping to demolish), in addition to its 4-Star general stores, which CNBC described as essentially indistinguishable from a Walmart or Target. Will a less-ritzy grocery store owned by Jeff Bezos be any better than the one down the street from you now? Probably not, but at least its profits will go to a guy who really needs the money.
“Amazon continues to show itself to be anti-union and anti-worker,” a member of the Whole Worker organizing group, which has attempted to unionize WFM employees, told Gizmodo, “We expect the same poverty wages, poor working conditions & disregard of labor rights to arise there.”
“Amazon isn’t about providing better food or customer service, and it certainly is not about fair competition,” Marc Perrone, President of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, said in a statement, “Launching this grocery chain is an aggressive expansion of Amazon’s market power as it seeks to fundamentally change our country’s food retail and service economy while eliminating as many retail workers as possible.
Updated with comment from the UFCW