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Whole Foods closing Austin catering kitchen; 93 jobs at risk


Highlights

Most of the employees currently working at the kitchen are expected to find work at Whole Foods stores.

Whole Foods intends to continue occupying the space on Bolm Road, transforming it into a test kitchen.

Whole Foods Market will close its centralized Austin catering kitchen next month, transferring catering operations into its stores here – a move that could result in up to 93 jobs being lost, according to a letter the Austin-based retailer sent the Texas Workforce Commission.

Most of the employees currently working at the catering kitchen, at 6201 Bolm Road in Austin, are expected to find work at Whole Foods stores in the Austin area, a company spokeswoman said.

In Central Texas, Whole Foods operates stores in Bee Cave, the Arboretum area in Northwest Austin, The Domain in North Austin, Arbor Trails in Southwest Austin and its flagship location in downtown Austin at 525 N. Lamar Blvd.

Whole Foods is one of Austin’s highest-profile companies, with 87,000 workers in more than 460 stores worldwide and about 2,500 employees in Central Texas.

Catering services provided after the centralized kitchen closes should be largely similar to those currently available, the company said.

“We’re shifting management of catering services in Austin to our five local stores, where culinary innovation and prepared foods are a major focus,” Whole Foods said in a written statement. “After May 1, each of our stores will work with customers across Austin on catering orders.

“We’re looking forward to enhancing the culinary services offered at our Austin stores and giving shoppers the added convenience of being able to place and pick up orders at their neighborhood Whole Foods Market.”

Whole Foods intends to continue occupying the space on Bolm Road, transforming it into an internal test kitchen managed by the company’s Global Culinary & Hospitality division.

News of the closure comes just a few weeks after Whole Foods said it would shutter three regional kitchens – in Everett, Mass.; Landover, Md.; and metro Atlanta – that employ about 500 people.

The items made in those kitchens, such as prepared foods, will be shifted to a combination of existing Whole Foods stores and outside vendors, the grocer said.

In its most recent earnings report, Whole Foods said it had record sales of $4.9 billion in its fiscal first quarter, but saw its net income decline and lowered its earnings projections for the year.

For the quarter ended Jan. 15, total sales were up 1.9 percent, the company said, while comparable store sales fell 2.4 percent.

The company reported net income of $95 million, or 30 cents per share. Adjusted for certain items, earnings were 39 cents per share. That compares with net income of $157 million and adjusted earnings per share of 46 cents in the same quarter the previous year.



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