78 Comments

Comments

Derby City Espresso says ...
I hope the FTC squashes this deal. It's bad for co0nsumers. It's bad for competition and it's bad for potential employees. It's only good for Whole Foods and Whole Foods is not the company it used to be. As a former employee (Chicago 1994-5, Louisville 2005-7) I am saddened by the loss of culture and increase in corporatism I have seen in WFM. I'm so glad I sold my shares years ago. Whole Foods sucks. Big box stores (even ones selling natural foods suck). Support local businesses and farmers markets.
06/20/2007 7:00:02 PM CDT
TC says ...
Thank you John.
06/20/2007 10:37:19 PM CDT
Andrew Phillippi says ...
Mr Mackey-- First I would like to Thank you for all of the great things that you and your company have done for me in my life. Whole Foods Market is simply the best. I find your unconventional approach to running a business and your honesty with shareholders refreshing in today's world. I believe that you are a savvy businessman who has provided wealth and health for many of your investors and consumers. I appreciate your passion for making the world a better place through your values and beliefs. You and you company have been successful in creating the great wealth and expansion in the organics industry. I wonder about the possibility of the role lobbyists for companies like ConAgra, BASF, and DOW chemical. IF they have been using power and large dollars to persuade the FTC to hinder your growth due to some perceived future threat to their own business plans. All in all, A successful merger will prove to be great for everyone involed. You- Whole Foods, Wild Oats, organics and the consumer. Thanks
06/20/2007 10:40:16 PM CDT
Paul Winslow says ...
It's absolutely a joke that the government thinks Whole Foods plus Wild Oats is going to create some kind of anti-competitive monopoly. Seriously, Whole Foods is TINY. And Whole Foods plus Wild Oats will still be tiny. Very few cities in this country even have a Whole Foods. Only a miniscule percentage of this country's 100 million families shop at Whole Foods. And NO ONE shops at Whole Foods because they have to. Whole Foods shoppers do so gladly and willingly, and, if they ever were to become dissatisfied, there are a million other places they can shop instead, at all price levels. John Mackey, your willingness to take a public stand against the FTC's overzealousness is to be commended. Other CEOs would either fight quietly or simply give up, being concerned only with their own companies' operations. The government is clearly abusing its power, and you're a hero for fighting this openly, honestly, and publicly.
06/20/2007 10:50:35 PM CDT
EKD says ...
John, I saw the headlines and have been following this whole debacle with utter bewildermint. The pinnacle was the FTC's unveiling of your memo. Well I was again befuddled. This is it? This is the their main piece of evidence as to Wholefoods evil, anti-competitive plot???? It is a no brainer...such lunacy. As a share-holder and every day customer I am glad to see you standing up to these guys...this deal has been dragging, and dragging, and dragging, and the stock prices have been going down, down, down when they should be going up...You are so right Wholefoods is it--they invented it and there is no other! Does Wild Oats want to compete--no Wildoats wants to be acquired, do the customers want it--you bet they do, do the shareholders want it--it is a no brainer...what a waste of everyone's money.
06/20/2007 11:11:07 PM CDT
Eugene Y. says ...
John, As a shareholder and customer of Whole Foods, I appreciate you giving us the information you did about Whole Foods and the FTC. I have learned things about your company from your blog that I couldn't have found out on my own. I wish the FTC would do something like that too... or at least if they could make some good sense of their argument. While exposing your argument before the trial is probably not a good idea, nonetheless, the truth needs to be exposed and respected above all else. It's better to know your whole truth from you rather than bits and pieces of information spinned by our wildly gyrating media. I really like the part where you talk about how you suspect the FTC realized they've made a mistake in their calculations by not taking into account your pricing information and then later on they ask for it but it's too late for them! However, it would really help if you or your lawyers have a few more aces up your sleeves than you let show for now! :-) Sincerely, Eugene Y.
06/21/2007 2:36:11 AM CDT
Erik L. Kulick says ...
John: It is ridiculous to assert that this deal is anti-competitive, but, unfortunately, your written comments have greatly increased the possibility that the court will side with the FTC. I am a long-term shareholder, and I agree that your business strategy is sound without any ill intent. However, as an attorney, I winced when I read the initial letter to the board, and then was fairly much shocked when I read your aforementioned blog. As such, I understand why the FTC flagged this deal for detailed review. No matter how well reasoned your argument will be in court, all the FTC has to do is hold up a copy of your blog to justify their point. Courts are inherently conservative, and, in most cases, truly try to make the best decision, but you have made it hard now for them. You had the right idea, but execution was poor. Anyway, I hope you prevail. Best of luck, Erik Kulick
06/21/2007 7:31:17 AM CDT
Lord Westfall says ...
Imagine an Italian restaurant that has such good service & delicious food, that the FTC concludes they don't compete in the same market as Olive Garden and declares them a monopoly. We all recall learning in school about the robber barons like Rockefeller, Carnegie, & Morgan. I took the liberty of adjusting the Wikipedia article on robber barons to include WFM CEO John Mackey. http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Robber_baron_%28industrialist%29&oldid=139661305
06/21/2007 8:18:47 AM CDT
Guy Black says ...
We love Whole Foods and shop there for most of our groceries. I am also a lawyer and have been through a lot of regulatory proceedings in all kinds of agencies, including the FTC. What you say about transparency, etc., is a formula for catastrophe. Every process has its own customs. When playing bridge, you don't lay your cards face up on the table. The same is true in mergers & acquisitions. Keep your own counsel. Listen to your lawyers. Get a crisis-management PR person and do what she says. Play by the M&A rules as you find them, not as you wish they were. Transparency makes sense in other areas, but it will kill your proposed transaction.
06/21/2007 9:54:04 AM CDT
Clay S. Conrad says ...
Dear Mr. Mackey: My guess is you never contributed to George Bush's campaigns. I have no doubt at all that had you done so, the FTC would be leaving you completely alone. In short, even though you hail from Austin (I do remember when Whole Foods was on the West side of Lamar) I doubt you were ever on Karl Rove's buddy list. Hate to say so, but the FTC (like every other alphabet-soup administrative agency of the gov't) is staffed by the President's hand-picked henchmen, and under this Prez, everything is political. Clay S. Conrad Gadfly@law
06/21/2007 10:36:45 AM CDT
Nicole Shultz says ...
Thank you John for your clarity and candidness. I am confident that WFM will win in court. I am not suprised, but sadden by the unfairness of the FTC's tactics and lack of crucial research. As WFM grows so do their contributions to make this world a better place (Earth University, micro-loans, Animal Compassion, etc...)Perhaps "Derby City Espresso" should do more research as well. I will avidly follow these proceedings with hope that truth and fairness prevail.
06/21/2007 11:12:28 AM CDT
Lord Westfall says ...
John, Apparently WFM must have a monopoly in the 150 or so markets where Wild Oats is not present. Why don't you just raise prices in those markets(since consumers would have no choice but to buy from WFM or starve to death)? This would result in either huge profit margins or countless hippies dying from starvation...basically a win-win situation either way.
06/21/2007 11:34:12 AM CDT
toof says ...
john, you are a bad ass for speaking out. and you have every right in this nation to do so, albeit slightly nerve-rattling to shareholders. but i think the court will make the right decision and side with you. your views, opinions, and outspokenness are what got you and all of your shareholders, employees, and vendors this far. it would be silly to change that now, wouldn't it? t
06/21/2007 6:05:49 PM CDT
TC says ...
With this blog, John has shown great respect and care for all of his stakeholders by including them in the process and explaining in detail the logic behind his position. Further, he exposes the FTC as an inept, political, and possibly corrupt organization, which hopefully will have positive implications for business and society in the future. Whole Foods is clearly in the right and shouldn't back down from gov't bureaucracy/corruption.
06/21/2007 6:46:49 PM CDT
Molly says ...
Having worked for and shopped at Wild Oats in the past, I must say that I wholly support the merger. As a customer, I rarely felt like I was given good service. As an employee, I never felt supported or even that I was a member of a team that worked together well. There are some individuals that I worked with that would go the extra mile and I know they look forward to the merger so that they can work for a company that cares. (There is no WFM in my area currently but the strength of WFM's reputation has been noted.)
06/21/2007 7:18:02 PM CDT
shoshana frumkin says ...
Most problems can be solved through creative practicle intelegence. I think Whoe Foods needs to diversify it's economic interests in a number of ways much like a mutual fund. !. Continue to open Relax spa's in as many other states as possible which would continue to generate high intest revenues through services and merchandise. 2. Have chair massage in every current WFM store as a centrally branded and run operation interfacing catered office lunch programs and wellness at work chair massage services. PR advertising and integrated marketing approach. In the State of California the Govenor has a wellness at work challenge with tangible measures for sucess. Very much like Green business awards we need to start opening new market channels in all states and integrate consumer access . There are more people at work every day who could use healthy food and a refreshing break that will ever shop at just one store on their own, we need to appeal to people where they are spending most of their time and deliver the goods. 3. Look into creating a compleatly different structure for the merger. consider the stores to be bought by the employees using a Whole Foods licensing agreement and run it more like a franchise and teach sustainable business management at it's highest level so we can foster a meaningful level of mentored euntrprenieurship while still retaining "the competitive egde" with all the appropriate profit sharing agreenebts in place with up front capitalization. 4. Create WFM subsidieries that venture into sustainable fuel and start opeining. 1. biofuel gas stations and go into leasing hybrid cars and bio fuel car conversions. 2. solar, wind and water merge markets 3. Green housing track projects focused on sustainable communities. 4. School lunch program contracts nation wide as well as Indian reservations and prisons. It's still feeding programs having to do with the food system, money to be made and lives will be improved. I am the president and founder of a small but growing chair massage company in California and provide work for about 50-60 people. There is always someone who is trying to compeate for more market share. The point is to find creative ways to reinvent how you do it, with whom and when and to see how much cooperatition ( cooperation with competition) one can establish and create as many allies without ruining the whole project and losing a foothold to the "old" good old boys club" especially in continuing in building a "new economy" with sustainable values all the way down to the janitor , and the homeless people who get better food standing outside natural food stores. In a previous posting I shared my favor for a "sustainable green world trade organization" If a merger between two relatively small companies like WFM and WOM can help acomplish that then we are a step closer to dismantelling the conventional capitalistic conservativism that has been the down fall of our planets current environmental condition. I do share sentiment with a previous post from a store employee about the dilution of the "culture" becoming to corporate. Organization , management systems and proceedures should not be confused with the heart and spirit of right livelihood and exicuting it well. Maybe this merger stuff will have to be finessed in a way that no one expects, so more impact will be made in ways we do not normally consider doing business! . Hey John, Being honest is one thing, putting your cards out on the table in high stakes poker not a good idea. You are way smarter than I am , but when I am in doubt I prefer to send a trusted team member to speak on my behalf or at least bluff my hand. Whether stake holder, shareholder, customer, vendor, shiftee, farmer, municipal waste worker, recycling company , bank, bookkeeper, upper management lower management, parking attendants, chair massage practitioners, nutrition consultants, dairy handlers, meat slaughter, stockers, inventory counters, trucking, warehousing, advertising and marketing, register clerks, customer service, real estate, store designers, store builders, product developers, packing houses, merchandising food preperation, trainers, educators, stock brockers, investment companies and all the families and loved ones connected. We all want the GROOVIEST thing that can possibly be created for the highest good for the most amount of people. Even if some don't know that ,that is what they can choose to want. Well... Back to the office to do my P&L while eating my WFM 365 spaghetti YUM YUM and so affordable. :-) Shoshana Frumkin, President / Founder On the Spot Massage LLC www.onthespotmassage.com
06/21/2007 8:13:16 PM CDT
Barry McOckinher says ...
There is a Wild Oats in Little Rock--it sucks. It is completely different from the experience I have when I go to a WFM in Dallas. I went there just to check out the stores as a stockholder, and I was super impressed, I ended up getting so many free samples I skipped lunch. The WFM employees were so nice. Two of them actually told me how they love getting up and going to work. One kept telling my friend he should apply once he learned he works at Kroger. Then he gave us more free samples. This place makes me wish I had a girlfriend that could cook. I would shop at WFM all the time if that were the case, and if one were around. However, I never go to Wild Oats. That place is lackluster at best. Which is one of the reasons I'm so excited about this merger. If WFM can turn these Wild Oats stores into WFM stores, consumers (like me) would enjoy a greater selection & more customer service. I hope you are successeful against idiotic & corrupt FTC.
06/22/2007 9:22:28 AM CDT
Greg says ...
I was supporter of this merger until the news that you are divesting two of the Wild Oats chains. Why bother with the merger then? Thanks much for ensuring that those chains are sold to remain as a natural food store. Where I live in So Cal, I have Henry's as my local store. The nearest Whole Foods is 37 miles away, and yes, I have taken trips to shop there. Apparently, So Cal is not "dense" enough to open more Whole Foods...I really think that translates to real estate prices being too high here and lack of large enough space. So I get by with Henry's. I was really looking forward to seeing those Wild Oats branded products replaced with Whole Foods brands...now there won't be either but some lame Smart and Freaking Final brand. Why not at least sell to Sprouts or some other natural food store? I guess it's all about money.... And your comment about Henry's selling cheaper and "lower quality" merchandise. I "make do" with what they have...who's to say you couldn't upgrade the merchandise and be successful? Yes, I am sure the farmers market stores do not generate as much revenue, BUT....they are also smaller, hence they should also have lower operating costs. Whole Body, Whole Planet....whole lotta crap with your actions with this. I for one now hope the merger is not successful!
06/22/2007 10:08:47 AM CDT
Claude Bause says ...
So if you run your business really well and create competitive advantages, that defines your company in a different market, and therefore is anti-competitive? I guess every non-commitity business should be busted of out of anti-trust concerns? Besides....There IS not goverment (FDA/USDA) definition of natural. WHOLE FOODS made it up and defines "natural" as they see fit. How far do you process foods before they are no longer "natural". WHOLE FOODS decides that. I had planned on opening a chain of "extra-natural" supermarkets, where all the meats I sell are still live cows/chickens/pork/etc, but the FTC won't let me because this would create monopoly problem in the "live cows/chickens/pork/etc." market. Good god almighty, if anything, the FTC has a monopoly on irrational stupidity.
06/22/2007 12:08:00 PM CDT
random girl says ...
You commit several errors of logic in your argument against the FTC. Your repeated references to other mergers always eliminate competition and your previous 18 acquisitions sound a lot like the old adage if everybody else jumped off the bridge... What I mean is, just because other mergers eliminate competition that does not validate your arguement for the merger in the slightest. Whole Foods is a sham. They claim to support local producers and environmental responsibility but in reality they are just another corporate mega house that could care less. They are using the organic and natural labeling to jack up their food prices and market to suckers willing to pay that much. The arguments you make for the merger only served to convince me of one thing. You are willing to sacrifice principle for the almighty dollar and the pursuit of profits. Any ideology you claim to represent has been swallowed by the corporate pimps of soul.
06/22/2007 2:33:08 PM CDT
Gerald David Coleson says ...
Glinda said to Dorothy, concerning the ruby slippers, "...their power must be great or else she (witch of the west) wouldn't want them so badly." Some soggy noodle is threatened by WFM or they wouldn't be trying to block this tiny merger. The crows pick at the best berries, right? This should be expected. There's no place like WFM, and the FTC will have egg on it's face when it's over. Thanks for everything, and best regards.
06/23/2007 5:37:59 PM CDT
Bill says ...
Sorry John I'm with the F.T.C. on this one. I have been a loyal Whole Foods shopper for many years in Austin. But since the new Austin store was built everything has changed. Prices have risen dramatically and excessively. Many middle class people can not afford to shop there anymore. Many of us now rely on Sun Harvest( wild oats) to get healthy food at a reasonable price. We were quite unhappy to find out W.F.M. was buying Wild Oats and thus depriving us of a reasonably priced alternative. The F.T.C. is a hero in this case. I truly hope they will stop this merger. We desperately need the competition here in Austin. Many people simply cannot afford Whole Foods excessive prices any longer. Sun Harvest provides us a vital and less expensive alternative. Cut regular people a little slack here, John. Thanks for allowing me to express my opinion.
06/24/2007 2:58:00 AM CDT
chris says ...
John, First off you candidness in this situation is to be greatly applauded. Its rare to find a CEO who is willing to show the fortitude and courage to come from behind the "Magic Curtain" and tell the Gods Honest truth about the day to day operations, as well as show the documents to back the figures up. The FTC is just another fine example of modern "Nanny Government" out of control. In alot of ways we can thank anti-business legislation such as Sarbanes-Oxley for causing problems for honest companies in this country who are competing in an ever-growing marketplace. As a fellow Libertarian, I think its past time for the FTC to be stripped of their powers. As a consumer, ive been to both your stores and your competitors (Wild Oats, Sprouts, Trader Joes, ect..) and favor the higher quality/selection you carry, as well as your superior staff that you hire, who are some of the best I believe in the industry. So to conclude, I totally support this move and hope you get your chance to stick it to the man!
06/24/2007 11:55:38 AM CDT
jg says ...
I personally have no gain with this merger but I too thought that the FTC was out of line. I worked for GTE when they became Verizon and if that one went unchallenged I can only speculate that Whole Foods forgot to pad the wallets of the fools in Washington. I applaud Mackey's voice on this matter.
06/24/2007 1:42:29 PM CDT
Matt Quintana says ...
Am I crazy? I worked for Whole Foods at the crossroads store in Austin early in it's and my development. During the years I worked for the company I became health concious and enjoyed a moderately healthy lifestyle. After leaving my employement with the company I quickly became aware that it was my twenty percent discount that permitted me these healthier choices. While I am no fan of the government and it's practices in such matters I am a firm believer in the healthy competition that helps keep prices down. John Mackey decided long ago that it is the rich that most deserve to be healthy (i.e. the ones with the spending money) and has since modeled Whole foods in a matter that clearly shows that. While H.E.B has managed to dominate it's field by driving prices down to make goods accessable to everyone. Whole Foods has made great strides to eliminate competition and drive prices up. I, the average joe on average income have no business buying groceries in a place that I can trust to make good purchacing decisions and offer excellent product knowledge. I am only entitled with my meager salary to sift through the products at a regular grocery store doing the best that I can to compile healthy meals for me and my family. I am a huge fan of the vast majority of Whole Foods philosophies. But if I have to rely on the government to step in and help make these products availabe to me then so be it. With great power comes great responsibilty and a truly nobles man's quest has the common man at it's root.
06/24/2007 2:08:44 PM CDT

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