Keeping a close eye – as we do – on retail developments outside of the UK, Whole Foods Market’s (WFM) ‘365 by Whole Foods Market’ new store format crossed our radar.
Designs for the first three 365 stores can be viewed here. Until the first one opens (in Los Angeles in May 2016), it’s difficult to know precisely what the 365 format will look like ‘in the flesh’. However, WFM has said all along that it has sought a “standardized design”, which is evident from these sketches. It has also said that the design will offer a “streamlined shopping environment”, whatever that may encompass.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the format for us at this stage is not so much the external execution but the in-store environment. WFM says the stores will “… offer a simple way to shop for healthy, high-quality food at great prices”, with the format name inspired by WFM’s existing ‘365 Everyday Value’ brand. It has also spoken about its ‘Friends of 365’ programme, which will see it partner with innovative businesses to whom 365 will host in-store space. Friends, it says, could be any type of business, “… from food and drinks, to fashion, body care products, services and more. (Record shop, Tattoo parlor? Maybe!)”
WFM means business, with 13 leases signed for 365 format stores as at February 2016. A chain of smaller-format US grocery stores focused on fresh, high-quality, affordable food. There are certainly some elements of WFM’s approach that remind one of what Tesco set out to do when it launched its Fresh & Easy stores in the US in 2007. But the crucial difference is that WFM is already rooted in the US grocery market, with 36 years’ experience there to boot, arguably giving it a far better chance of success.
We’re looking forward to 365’s debut in May.