78 Comments

Comments

Chris Gallo says ...
I haven't had a chance to read the long post, but here's my 2 cents on this whole thing. It might sound like a conspiracy theory, but who cares... The FTC action is a product of traditional supermarkets lobby. These guys are having their lunch eaten by Whole Foods in one end and Wal-Mart on the other end. Since traditional supermarkets can't compete, they resort to "dirty" tricks such as helping trade unions to damage Wal-Mart's reputation and now this. At least the Safeways and Krogers of the world are being smarter this time. They will not let Whole Foods grow too much too fast like they let Wal-Mart do.
06/24/2007 2:36:30 PM CDT
Jeff says ...
I don't really shop "organic" but my wife and I were both disappointed to see WFM trying to end up owning Sun Harvest (via the Wild Oats purchase) here in Austin. We buy fresh vegetables sometime at Sun Harvest at good prices, much better than HEB for some items. I think WFM is an overpriced entity ala StarBucks; I cannot see them as cost-effective in any shape or form. However, WFM and StarBucks both manage to stay in business to my neverending amazement and they're not hurting me in doing so. So buy Wild Oats and quash Sun Harvest in the process; I'll just shop at HEB, CostCo, and WalMart (as a last resort). I'd rather the FTC spend their time hassling the people that sell extended warranties then refuse to honor them, telemarketers that ignore the "Do Not Call" list, and internet fraud. Going after them, however, would require the FTC to do Real Work; it's much easier to hassle a relatively small player in the food resale business with a CEO that doesn't mind his words well enough.
06/24/2007 4:07:15 PM CDT
Luke says ...
I shop at Sun Harvest (Wild Oats inc) to save money because if I go to Whole Paycheck I will have a hard time making my mortgage payment. I mean really.. who sells Guacamole for $8.99/lb when half the ingredients are conventially grown red onions??
06/24/2007 5:17:34 PM CDT
Richard says ...
well, what you are saying about wild oats not being the primary competitor may be true or not...I don't know. What I do know is that in austin, the wild oats stores price their produce both organic and conventional at a much lower price than whole foods market. Despite whole foods market proclamation that a merger will bring lower prices, I suspect that a merger will raise the prices at the local wild oats. Why? Because in my view, wild oats prices themselves to be the low priced natural foods grocer in produce anyway. Whole foods doesn't think that way. Whole foods market thinks only about maximizing their profit, and the whole foods name will help them maximize the profit at the wild oats stores. I suspect the result of the merger will be to force many wild oats customers to some other low priced grocer. I hope the merger fails.
06/24/2007 8:50:19 PM CDT
Dan Fitzgerald says ...
There is one exceptionally effective way of striking back at the useless FTC. Back Ron Paul. A public endorsement from John Mackey would help tremendously. If an arbitrary federal government can do this to an entity like Whole Foods, imagine what they do, daily, to the rest of us. Ron Paul, if elected, would eliminate the FTC. Help us help you!
06/24/2007 9:06:16 PM CDT
Claude Bause says ...
Since when did profit become a bad thing? You people who bash WFM & other corperations lack even a basic understanding of economics. You simply do not see how the real world works. I would suggest you go read Atlas Shurgged, but you won't because that might lead to intellectual growth and would be most disruptive to your precious ideologies... Where is the outrage that the FTC is able to just piss all over any concept of privacy here!? 20 million documents requested!? This is an attempt by the FTC to block a merger they know cannot be blocked by the courts, so they burden WFM with all these costly requests for irrelevent docuements! If they were truely concerned with WFM prices, they wouldn't be making unreasonable demands placing a huge cost burden on WFM. John, as a WFM Shareholder, I am pleased to see you are fighting against these looters.
06/25/2007 9:01:37 AM CDT
11secondRule says ...
I was looking forward to the merger and am saddened to see the results of recent events between you and the FTC. This needs to be worked out in a civilized manner. Be the bigger man. I learned of your story from nobosh: http://www.nobosh.com/Article/John-Mackey%3A-Whole-Foods-CEO-Versus-the-FTC/659/ Best of luck.
06/25/2007 10:28:39 AM CDT
abigail says ...
Mr Bause, Profit becomes a bad thing when you sacrifice ideology for it. Profit becomes a bad then when you use it as a club to beat everyone- consumers, competitors, and the government into submission. Several consumers have stated valid concerns that WFM charges higher prices than Wild Oats. Is eating healthy and going green a marketing ploy to attract weathly consumers or is it something WFM truly believes in? If it were something WFM wanted to promote, wouldnt they make it available to everyone? Their prices and store locations speak volumes about their true philosophy- profit is the only thing WFM values. check out this article for more insight: http://www.slate.com/id/2138176/
06/25/2007 12:38:03 PM CDT
Etoe says ...
As someone who has worked for both companies(currently at WFM)...I am all for this merger. Wild Oats, try as they might, are unable to execute the "Natural Grocery Store" near as well as WFM. WFM's commitment to it's team members, the environment and fair trade practices is surpassed by no one. I am so very proud of our company leadership for fighting this. Thanks!!!!
06/25/2007 6:42:10 PM CDT
Brian Jurvick says ...
Mr. Mackey: In reference to your pricing data, you state the following: "Whole Foods Market's prices aren't higher in any markets where Wild Oats doesn't have any stores than in markets where they do. Whole Foods Market's prices don't rise when Wild Oats closes a store and exits a market." Is this not perhaps a deliberate "limit pricing" strategy by Whole Foods? In other words, the reason why prices aren't any higher in those markets where only Whole Foods operates (compared to markets where both WF and WO operate) is because Whole Foods is trying to DETER ENTRY by Wild Oats. Whole Foods deliberately keep prices low so that Wild Oats can't profitably enter the market. And in those markets where Wild Oats is forced to exit, Whole Foods doesn't subsequently raise prices b/c it wants to keep Wild Oats out. That's competition at work! Of course, once Wild Oats no longer exists, Whole Foods will be free to raise prices in all these markets! You can't examine what will happen to prices after Wild Oats is acquired by looking at what happened to prices with Wild Oats competing!
06/25/2007 7:33:31 PM CDT
Stefan says ...
I am currently writing a paper on this aquisition for an MBA class. Mr. Mackey, I agree with all your points. Looks like the FTC latched onto your internal comments and got themselves into an embarassing situation. I'm sure they are wondering how best to get out of this and save some face. As I see it, they can either: 1) Drop the whole thing and approve the aquisition. Afterall it takes time to read 20M documents and perform due dilligence. Just looking out for the Consumer. or 2) Continue fighting in the court system where they will lose and have wasted a bunch of tax payer's (and share holder's) money. Best of luck.
06/25/2007 11:53:28 PM CDT
John Willis says ...
HURRAY FOR THE FTC! If the history of business in America and the world teaches us anything, it is the need for sound regulation. Sadly but truly, the human heart is a thieving one all too much of the time. To suggest otherwise is to believe that our streets don't need policing and government itself doesn't require watchdogs. Episodes like that with Enron and countless others over the decades and centuries prove the plunder that business is capable of. To think that we'd be better off without the FTC is to be willfully blind to history. If the commission needs improvement, it can happen over time in our system of government, the same one that skillfully enables capitalism to thrive in the first place. Tho I rarely shop there, I have no particular beef with the company. I do think, however, that the CEO has made a bit of a fool of himself, and that's always fun to watch. Maybe when he comes to his senses, he'll settle down and actually make a solid and reasoned case for the merger.
06/26/2007 2:16:07 AM CDT
B. Townsend says ...
Mr. Mackey, Could you please tell the entire business community to respect the FTC's view that none of the large chain retailers, like Kroger, competes with you. I just read another article (one of hundreds) that points out that one of your alleged competitors, Kroger, "has been able to withstand strong pressure from...Walmart..and Whole Foods by remodeling its stores, improving customer service, cutting some items, and promoting items such as fresher produce" (Reuters 6/26/07). Obviously, the FTC is the only one who gets it - Whole Foods competes with no other grocer or retailer except Wild Oats. You know, as well as any, that Whole Foods has nothing to do with beautifully delivered store ambience, extraordinary customer service, or thoughtful selection of various conventional (cheaper) and organic (no so cheap) produce. If you did, then of course you'd be competing with Wal*Mart and Kroger, but again, it seems only the FTC knows what is really going on in the business world based on their thorough review of your emails and songs you sing in the shower. Please tell Wild Oats it was all a big mistake, that you should have seen it was not in the best interests to see value in a merger of two players. You see, in America, we don't make things better or take on challenges such as growing a business through mergers and acquisitions, at least that is message the FTC is sending. So, like a ripe grape ready for picking, let Wild Oats rot on the vine, so not even good wine can be made from it, and throw out all your fine business practices like day old bread. The FTC wants this deal halt so they can protect the American public from the certain disaster of no other company in America competing with Whole Foods. Can you imagine the checkout lines at your stores then!
06/26/2007 8:15:10 AM CDT
Claude Bause says ...
Abigail, you wrote: []Profit becomes a bad thing when you sacrifice ideology for it.[] The mere existance of profit indicates you've provided a good or service to someone who wants/needs it. Why should we adhere to ideologies to our own detriment? Far more attrocities have been committed in the name of ideology than in the name of profit. []Profit becomes a bad then when you use it as a club to beat everyone- consumers, competitors, and the government into submission.[] If you beat your customers, you're not going to have profit. Profit only exist because customers feel they are benifiting from volentarily shopping at our stores, if they didn't feel this way, they wouldn't shop at WFM. []Several consumers have stated valid concerns that WFM charges higher prices than Wild Oats.[] Yeah, well I've been to a Wild Oats store and it sucked. Personally, I WFM offers more value than Wild Oats. Furthermore, WOats isn't profitable, which means their current state isn't sustainable. They'll either have to raise prices or improve efficency or they'll go out of business. I know of no better way to improve efficency than to have WFM buy them. [] Is eating healthy and going green a marketing ploy to attract weathly consumers or is it something WFM truly believes in? If it were something WFM wanted to promote, wouldnt they make it available to everyone? Their prices and store locations speak volumes about their true philosophy- profit is the only thing WFM values.[] I wish profit were the only motive, but it's not. WFM donates 5% of all profits to charity. It does all sorts of things to benifit customers/employees/suppliers/etc. Some of these help further future profits, but many do not. I invest in many companies, and most companies have profit as the only motive, which is fine IMO. But I find it ironic that you're critisizing WFM for this, when they do things that specifically reduce profits for the sake of other stakeholders. This is actually my biggest complaint with WFM.
06/26/2007 12:01:09 PM CDT
Job-Hoppers-Haven BLOG says ...
John Mackey's BLOG is in the news this week. The Whole Foods CEO is fighting the FTC about the merger of a low cost competitor...in a public forum, his BLOG. What does he expect to gain with his transparent flaming: public support, the backing of his employees or investor confidence? He is clearly within his rights, but the downside is the negative publicity. Shoppers may read this and side with the FTC and shop elsewhere. A CEO should be the face of the organization creating market share and spinning good news. The battle with the FTC should remain in the board room where it belongs.
06/26/2007 1:04:15 PM CDT
Gary D says ...
Dear Mr. Mackey, I applaud your blog, your standing up to a ancient system that seems to choose and pick on the selected few. The FTC was needed back when Standard Oil & the RRs & others were creating monopolies for one purpose only to drive-up the prices of their products. As far as I can see, with the evidence you have provided, this higher-price scheme will not happen; if anything, the merger will produe better quality. Maybe the FTC & DOC should be more worried about Foreign Competition buying out US Companies; who cut supplies, and drive up prices--do I need to spell it out who these companies are, of course not. Furthermore, if companies such as Ford, GM, and Chrysler had their CEOs blogging telling the public what their plans are, would not their Stocks go up, or maybe better yet, they would have understood what the DOLLAR VOTE really wanted. Finally a CEO with a pair of Brass Monkeys willing to be forthcoming, willing to be innovated, willing to lay the cards on the table and deal, and willing not to bow to a system that seems out-of-whack.
06/26/2007 1:33:37 PM CDT
Claude Bause says ...
[J. Willis] I do think, however, that the CEO has made a bit of a fool of himself, and that's always fun to watch. Maybe when he comes to his senses, he'll settle down and actually make a solid and reasoned case for the merger.[] You know what I think is fun to watch? A bunch of people who lack even a basic understand of economics or respect for the legal rights of a corperation posting ilogical rants on topics they know nothing about. 1) The Enron "episode" involved people breaking the law--thus we already have laws in place to deal with those types of episodes. You seem to think that business is capable of great blunders & corruption and therefore strict govermet oversight & control is needed. What if the goverment is capable of greater blunders & corruption? 2) Instead of just blasting Mackey's case as not solid or well-reasoned, why not try to respond and show how this merger would be illegal? Would the merger raise prices? Or are you like the FTC in that you opposse mergers without the necessary pricing information you'd need tomake such a determination? 3) How has Mackey made a fool of himself? This is a perfect example of an inefficent irrational goverment standing in the way of progress and individual freedoms. If anti-capitalism people like you had your way, we'd all be living in grass huts.
06/26/2007 1:45:30 PM CDT
Andre Khan says ...
Dear Mr. Mackey, Keep up the good fight... it is a just fight. I have tremendous respect for your transparency and candor. This country needs more CEOs like yourself, and corporations like Whole Foods Market. Andre Khan
06/26/2007 4:06:49 PM CDT
Leah says ...
As a consumer living 4 hours from the nearest Whole Foods Store, I welcome the increase in marketing that the company desires. The closest thing we have to Whole Foods is a very over priced store in the Springfield, Mo. area. As a result I try to shop at farmers markets when I can. Unfortunately, there are times I have no other recourse than to shop at WalMart. I look forward to having a competitive market for organics, in the Mid-West area of our country.
06/27/2007 9:03:28 AM CDT
res ipsa loquitur says ...
Dear Mr. Mackey, I thought you'd want to be made aware of a book scheduled for publication by Doubleday in in December 2007. It's called "Liberal Facism: The Totalitarian Temptation from Hegel to Whole Foods." Surely you must have issues with the Whole Foods brand being defamed by an association with totalitarism. And surely Whole Food's customers who also happen to be liberals will not appreciate such derogatory associations. You can find more information about the book here: http://www.amazon.com/Liberal-Fascism-Totalitarian-Temptation-Hegel/dp/0385511841/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/104-8742945-4111129?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1182961626&sr=1-1
06/27/2007 11:32:16 AM CDT
Claude Bause says ...
One more point. A lot of people have commented that "profit is the only thing WFM values." (in the words of one poster. This reminds me of my ex-girlfriend who thinks profit is evil. She hates Walmart with a passion equal to the Klan's hatred of blacks. One thing I've learned from her is no amout of logic or overwhelming economic data can change her mind. I suspect that if I create an alternate universe in which large profits were forbiden & show her how much lower the quality of life would be in such a universe, she still wouldn't change her ideology that profits are evil. But let me ask this question to anyone make the claim that WFM seeks only profit. Wholefoods is run by Mackey; he pretty much responsible for all the decisions the company makes & its strategic vision. Mackey is clearly not personaly motivated by profit alone--in fact I would argue that Mackey is in no way motivated by personal profit anymore, as he has volentarily reduced his salery to $1, and is giving away all his options to charity. Why then would you. Why would John value only profit in the way he runs WF, but do just the opposite in his personal life? This makes no sense. Can any of you "WFM is all about profits, Mannn!" people explain this?
06/27/2007 11:59:23 AM CDT
Steve Battaglia says ...
Not only do I agree with your assessment of the FTC, but have learned first hand about the FTC's unresonable and unrational approach with regards to my investment in Rambus (RMBS). The 5 Commissioners "ignored" their own ALJ's findings of Rambus' innocence with a thorough 353 page revelation. You are in for a dogfight.
06/28/2007 6:24:40 AM CDT
J Konnor says ...
Mr. Mackey - Kudos for hitting this head on. I respect you for being candid and making every effort to keep people informed. It is a very wise business move in my opinion. It is ludicrous for the FTC to state the "standard" grocery store isn't heavily dipping into the organic market, I see their organic lines everywhere. As a woman who has 9 grocery stores in a 5 mile radius to choose from, I feel like I am a pretty well informed consumer. I think you are on the mark and have a ton of support and loyalty.
06/28/2007 11:05:03 AM CDT
stacy smith says ...
How long have you been in business in the U.S. that you're surprised at the federal government's actions and the miles and miles of bureaucratic red tape? I also think it's a bit patronizing to insinuate that the FTC is unrealistically suggesting your move to buy Wild Oats "as very aggressive and seeking to "destroy" Wild Oats and to "dominate" the natural/organic products market. Are you suggesting that the general public believe that Whole Foods does NOT want to dominate the natural/organic products market? Isn't that what you're in business to do? Or do you think we'll believe you are in busines for the public good. I mean, you sell the groceries, right?
06/28/2007 5:48:24 PM CDT
Al says ...
Dear John, Wild oats is the main competitor of whole foods across the united states. There are no other natural food chains that can provide competition and pressure like wild oats. Your merger is bullying and overly aggressive. Your whole foods stores will never provide a price to quality "natural" foods as Wild oats (and sun harvest) does, ever. My parents shopped at your store ever other evening when it was small off 6th street in austin during the 80's and 90's. but you lost touch with your original customers. Your excuse that you are providing the highest quality foods is baseless, because some of the exact same suppliers of sun harvest sell for up to 3 times less at sun harvest. I have trouble parking at sun harvest on saturday mornings because it is so popular with the locals. Sun harvest is supported by the very original customers you used to have before you globalized. You cater to a specific customer base which is ok, but why not make more money by providing reasonably priced natural foods. Most of the customers gained from the merger will NOT be greater because there ARE alternatives to your overly priced stores, such as central market and HEB stores that now offer lines of natural foods. Good luck with your merger, in the end, your stores will only cater to those who can afford it, not those who want it.
06/28/2007 10:23:56 PM CDT

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