AmazonWhole Foods is laying off some company employees as part of a planned reorganization of select teams, and as its parent company scrutinizes costs.
Whole Foods plans to reorganize some global and regional support teams over the next two months, the company’s leadership team wrote in a memo to employees Thursday. As a result, Whole Foods is laying off several hundred employees from these teams, a spokesperson confirmed. The cuts translate to about less than half of one percent of the company’s global workforce, a Whole Foods Market spokesperson said.
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“We often talk about the need to simplify our work and improve our operation as we grow,” the leadership team wrote in the memo. “We have made great strides in these areas through previous operational and organizational changes. As the grocery industry continues to rapidly evolve and we – like all retailers – have weathered challenges like the COVID pandemic -19 and continued economic uncertainty, it has become clear that we must continue to take advantage of these changes. With additional adjustments, we will be able to further simplify our operations, facilitate processes and improve the way which we support our stores.
As part of the changes, Whole Foods, which operates in nine different regions, will expand to six regions. According to the memo, the move will not result in any store closures or layoffs of store or distribution center employees.
Whole Foods is tweaking its operating structure as it seeks to grow and better serve its customers, the spokesperson said. The company has about 50 new stores in development, they added.
In 2017, Amazon spent $13.7 billion to acquire the high-end grocer, a move that sent shockwaves through the grocery industry. The retail giant acquired Whole Foods in hopes of accelerating its multi-year push to sell groceries online and in physical stores.
Whole Foods has undergone other operational changes since Amazon acquired it. The company in 2021 merged its global and regional merchandising teams and moved its technology team to focus on software engineering, technical product and program manager roles, to “support our growth”.
Amazon CEO Andy Jassy recently halted expansion of his Fresh supermarket chain as part of a company-wide effort to rein in spending. It also closed some Fresh and Go convenience stores without a cashier. Some employees in Amazon’s food unit were laid off in a recent round of layoffs announced in January.
Still, Jassy said he remains confident about Amazon’s potential to grow its grocery business. In its letter to shareholders last week, Jassy said Amazon “needs to find a mass grocery format that we believe is worth expanding” to have a bigger impact on physical grocery.
Here is the full memo:
Improve our operating structure to better support our stores
Dear team members,
We often talk about the need to simplify our work and improve our functioning as we grow. We have made great strides in these areas through previous operational and organizational changes. As the grocery industry continues to rapidly evolve and we, like all retailers, have overcome challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic and continued economic uncertainty, it has become clear that we must continue to take advantage of these changes. With additional adjustments, we will be able to further streamline our operations, make processes easier and improve how we support our stores.
To achieve this, we will be evolving our operational structure and making some changes to some global and regional support teams over the next two months. We see a great opportunity to advance our impact on the world, and these changes will help us fully seize that opportunity. These changes include:
- Go from nine to six regions with a more consistent number of stores per region. Moving to fewer regions of similar sizes will allow us to make decisions quickly, implement sustainable processes, and innovate at scale. Ultimately, this will help us improve the service we provide to our customers, team members and suppliers. As we redraw the lines of our regional map, some stores may be part of a new region, but this change will not result in any store or facility closures or change our commitment to maintaining local relevance in our stores. See our new regional map and direction details below. Team members can expect to hear from the leader of their future region early next week.
- Creating a Unified Enterprise-Wide Operations Team moving support for category-specific store operations from the regions to a single field support team within our global operations team. Additionally, we will lighten the supply chain management workload from the regions, transferring these responsibilities to a new supply chain performance management function within our global supply chain team. These changes will free up time for stores to focus on serving customers, while unifying communications and support around clear operational priorities.
- Improved Team Member Services (TMS) support for team members and business executives by realigning the structures of the TMS teams. This will help eliminate a significant amount of transactional work, allowing our TMS teams to focus more on the experience, growth and development of team members. It will also allow store management to operate with greater agility and have more time to focus on priority initiatives.
- Adjustment of the structures and improvement of the processes of several other global support teams to provide more efficient, timely and consistent support to stores and ensure that support teams can focus on priority initiatives. We will start sharing more information about the changes to the Global Support Team with the respective teams starting today. We will also be meeting with store and facility leaders to discuss these updates in more detail.
These changes will impact our team members in different ways. Store and facility-based roles are not directly impacted, although there will be some adjustments to how support and store teams work together. There will be staff reductions in some global and regional support teams, and those affected will receive more information today. While change is necessary and healthy for a sustainable business, it can also be very difficult, especially when it affects the lives of team members. We are committed to supporting all team members impacted by these transitions.
As we simplify processes and improve how we operate, we’ll be able to respond quickly to changing business needs, focus more on our most impactful work, and invest in new ways to serve. all stakeholders. We are confident that these changes will allow us to better support our stores, team members and suppliers, improve the customer experience and position Whole Foods Market for continued growth. More importantly, these changes will help us achieve our goal of feeding people and the planet for decades to come.
Sincerely, the E team
SHOW: How Whole Foods has changed since the Amazon takeover