In interview, Whole Foods CEO calls agitators ‘greedy bastards’


Highlights

Whole Foods shook up its board and promised to become more efficient, among other things.

Rumored suitors for the chain include Amazon, Albertsons, Kroger and Publix.

Whole Foods Market CEO John Mackey comes out swinging in a new Texas Monthly interview, calling the agitators who’ve pushed for the Austin-based grocer to make a host of changes – including possibly putting itself up for sale – “greedy bastards” looking to make a quick buck.

Mackey tells the magazine he was just about to kick off the book tour for “The Whole Foods Diet” when he first learned that Jana Partners had snatched up 9 percent of the company’s stock. The timing was intentional, he believes.

“They hijacked my book tour,” Mackey told Texas Monthly. “It’s not that I think that they were trying to harm the book tour. It’s just like, ‘Okay, the CEO is going to be distracted. He’s not going to be able to give full attention to this.’”

Mackey and his team went into crisis mode, canceling appearances, including one on “CBS This Morning.”

Since then, Jana Partners, which declined to comment for the Texas Monthly story, has been joined by another major investor, Neuberger Berman, in calling for changes aplenty.

Whole Foods subsequently shook up its board and promised to become more efficient, roll out improved technology and expand its customer loyalty program, among other things.

“Yes, we need to evolve,” Mackey said. “We need to get better, and we’re doing that. But these guys just want to sell us, because they think they can make forty or fifty percent in a short period of time. They’re greedy bastards, and they’re putting a bunch of propaganda out there, trying to destroy my reputation and the reputation of Whole Foods, because it’s in their self-interest to do so.”

Rumored suitors for the chain include Amazon, Albertsons, Kroger and Publix.

The Mackey interview appears in the July issue of Texas Monthly.



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