Two major investors in Austin-based Whole Foods Market have urged the company to consider putting itself up for sale in recent weeks.
With 465 stores, 87,000 employees and annual sales of $15.7 billion, the grocer would seem like an attractive acquisition target.
But it also has a bit of baggage. A Barclays analyst suggested in March that Whole Foods had lost 14 million customers since 2015 – many of them to Kroger, a company that’s been named as a potential suitor.
That increased competition from mainstream grocers has caused Whole Foods to struggle a bit in recent quarters. In its fiscal first quarter, for example, the chain recorded record sales of $4.9 billion, but saw its net income decline and also lowered its earnings projections for the year.
In addition to Kroger, grocers Albertsons and Publix have also been mentioned as possible buyers. And it was revealed that Amazon looked at Whole Foods last year, although it declined to make an offer at the time.
Here’s a look at the four potential Whole Foods suitors who’ve been mentioned thus far:
- Headquarters: Cincinnati, Ohio
- Founded: 1883
- Number of stores: 2,796 in 35 states
- Number of employees: 431,000
- Annual sales: $115.3 billion
- Divisions: Includes Kroger, Ralphs, Harris Teeter, Fred Meyer, King Soopers, Food 4 Less
- Central Texas presence: Pulled out of Central Texas decades ago.
- Headquarters: Boise, Idaho
- Founded: 1939
- Number of stores: 2,200 in 35 states and Washington, D.C.
- Number of employees: 265,000
- Annual sales: $58.7 billion
- Divisions: Includes Albertsons, Safeway, Randalls, Tom Thumb, Star, Pavilions, Vons, Shaw’s, Acme, United
- Central Texas presence: Left Central Texas, Houston and San Antonio a decade ago, but returned to the Austin and Houston areas in 2015 via its acquisition of Safeway, the owner of Randalls.
- Headquarters: Lakeland, Fla.
- Founded: 1930
- Number of stores: 1,147 in six states
- Number of employees: 190,000
- Annual sales: $34 billion
- Divisions: Publix, GreenWise Market and Publix Sabor
- Central Texas presence: Doesn’t operate in Texas.
- Headquarters: Seattle
- Founded: 1994
- Number of employees: 97,000
- Annual sales: $135.99 billion
- Central Texas presence: Built a distribution warehouse in San Marcos. Also offers two-hour delivery of select items to Prime customers in Austin.