'It’s gonna change our culture': Whole Foods CEO preps his staff for life under Amazon (AMZN, WFM)
Amazon announced on Friday that it was buying the high-end grocer Whole Foods.
The company hosted a town hall meeting with staff on the same day to talk through the deal, and thanks to a Whole Foods filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, we now know what was said.
The transcript from the town hall is pretty colorful, and we'd recommend you give the whole thing a read. One takeaway: Whole Foods is going to be changing.
Here are the key extracts from Whole Foods CEO John Mackey's speech:
- On cost cutting: "We’re gonna evolve. So I can’t say there’s not gonna ever be any changes. Because you already know we’re evolving. We are— we’ve sent out, publically, we’re doing category management. We’re committed to putting— launching affinity program. We’re gonna take $300 million out of our cost structure."
- On hiring consultants: "We’ve hired Boston Consulting Group, who’s come up with some amazing analysis of things that we can do to reduce our cost while improving our service to our customers. So this evolution’s gonna continue. We do think our partnership with Amazon is gonna help us do that more skillfully and, hopefully, faster."
- On leadership changes: "There’ll be leadership changes at Whole Foods Market. But they’re just not gonna be, I don’t think, forced on us by Amazon. We’re gonna evolve. We need to evolve. We wanna make this deal, because we think they can help us evolve quicker and better than we could do on our own. So I— I don’t want people goin’ away, thinkin’ that nothin’s gonna change around here. ‘Cause things are gonna change. There’s just no question about that. So— I don’t know if they have any plans for, you know, but in a good marriage, you know, we want Amazon people to be here."
- On cultural change: "It’s gonna change our culture. I mean, it’s the truth. It’s inevitable. But it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad thing. We’re going to evolve. Our culture is evolving all the time. And so we are affected by everything we encounter.And there’s an integrity to our culture. And I think they are gonna respect that integrity. These g— they’re really smart people. They’re not stupid enough to go in and trash the very asset that they are spending billions of dollars to acquire.But our culture is going to evolve. I— I just wanna make sure everybody understands that. It’s gonna evolve in very constructive, positive ways. It’s going to be us pulling it in, for the most part. It’s gonna be us learning and saying, “That is so cool, what they’re doing,” and take— making it part of us.
- On the two companies combining: "Their people will inter— intermarry with our people and— and, probably, literally. And— and it’s inevitable that there’ll be some cultural mingling. And we— we will also influence their culture. That’s just the way it is.