Whole Foods Market Company History Timeline


Mackey, a self-described hippie who had dropped out of the University of Texas a few credits shy of gaining a philosophy degree, had cajoled $45,000 out of family and friends to open Safer Way, a small health food store, in Austin in 1978.

By 1978, the store (only 1100 square feet) was doing more than $1 million per year.


1980: First Whole Foods Market

In 1980, Julie and Richie Gerber, organic farmers from Maine, moved to Florida and purchased a natural food store in Ft.


The following Memorial Day, on May 25, 1981, the most damaging flood in 70 years devastated Austin.


By 1985, two more Whole Foods Markets had opened in Austin and another in Houston.

In 1985, they expanded to a 3,000 square foot building with a full service restaurant and kitchen.

As the wholesale side of the business continued to grow, Jeff and Roger directed the sale of the retail division in 1985 and renamed the wholesale division Allegro Coffee Company.


1986: The company buys Bluebonnet Natural Foods Grocery in Dallas, converts it to a Whole Foods Market.

The first store, located in Durham, was completely "vegetarian." In 1986, it moved to a larger space two blocks up the street, and in response to consumer demand, added fish, poultry and meat.


Later in 1988, the seventh Whole Foods Market was opened in Richardson, Texas.

The Crossens took the company public in 1988 and bjr!996 posted net income of $4.5 million on sales of $54 million, 85 percent of which was generated through direct mail and catalog orders.


1989: The company opens store in Palo Alto, California.

In 1989, the company expanded to the West Coast with a store in Palo Alto, California.

In 1989, the Gerbers partnered with Jim Oppenheimer to relocate to a 6800 square foot store two miles away.

Food For Thought began serving the community of Sebastopol in Sonoma County, California in 1989 when the business was purchased by the Shelton families.


In the United States, the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 began the process of establishing enforceable rules to mandate how agricultural products are grown, sold, and labeled.


Fresh Fields had been founded only in May 1991 but had grown more rapidly than any other natural food chain.

Wellspring Grocery joined Whole Foods Market in November of 1991.

During 1991 Texas Health Distributors (THD) moved into a new, 85,000-square-foot facility.

By the end of 1991 Whole Foods had 10 stores, more than 1,100 employees, sales of $92.5 million, and net profits of $1.6 million.

In 1991, Whole Foods Market launched its Whole Foods premium private label of products made by small producers with a regional focus and a reputation for authentic and flavorful food.

In 1991, Wild Oats opened their first supermarket-sized store in Santa Fe, New Mexico.


Also in 1993, Peter Roy, who had been serving as president of the company’s northern California region, was appointed president and chief operating officer in August.

Eight additional stores were opened in 1993 including expansion into the Philadelphia and Chicago markets.

The company went public in 1993 and launched a separate chain, Harry's in a Hurry, a small specialty store that was not a part of the Whole Foods Market acquisition.


During fiscal year 1995, Whole Foods made several small acquisitions.

In 1995, the Bread of Life opened a 30,000 square foot store in Plantation, Florida.


In July 1996, as part of a restructuring of the southern California operations, the company began to transform the Mrs.

Locke, Tom, “Colorado Pharmaceutical Amrion Inc. at a Crossroads,” Daily Camera (Boulder, Colo.), November 19, 1996.

At the time of the merger with Whole Foods Market in 1996, Fresh Fields had 22 stores open in four different market areas: Washington/ Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York/New Jersey/Connecticut and Chicago.

In 1996, it became a public company traded on the NASDAQ Stock Market.


After supplying our stores with specialty and organic coffees, teas and brewing equipment for many years, Allegro joined the Whole Foods Market family in December of 1997.

The merger with Whole Foods Market in 1997 prompted the creation of the Florida region.

Whole Foods Market began seriously discussing the on-line sale of our products in 1997, when ecommerce was viewed as an intriguing yet risky venture.

The company purchased Allegro Coffee Company in 1997.


By 1998, Whole Foods and its sole major competitor, Wild Oats Markets, Inc., had purchased most natural foods businesses that had a significant number of stores.

Development of our "virtual" store began in the summer of 1998.

UK based Fresh & Wild was founded by Hass Hassan in late 1998.


In March 1999, it launched Wholefoods.com, with the stated intention “of being the number one retailer of natural products online.” By September further plans were announced to merge Amirn, the company’s natural supplement subsidiary, with Wholefoods.com to create Wholepeople.com.

“Real Goods Sells 16% of Company to Whole Foods Market,” PR Newswire, September 23, 1999, http://www.prnewswire.com.

In October of 1999, WholeFoods.com merged with Amrion to form a new e-commerce subsidiary, WholePeople.com.

It further expanded its Boston-area holdings in 1999 with the purchase for $24.5 million in cash of Nature’s Heartland, the owner of four natural foods supermarkets.

In fiscal year 1999, Whole Foods Market, Inc. adopted an Economic Value Added (EVA) management and incentive system.

In 1999 they joined Whole Foods Market.

The company's 100th store was opened in Torrance, California, in 1999.


Whole Foods Market closed the deal acquiring Food For Thought in February of 2000.

The new WholePeople.com ecommerce site was launched in March 2000.

In 2000, Whole Foods purchased Natural Abilities, the operator of three stores in Sonoma County, California, for $25 million.

The first was Natural Abilities in 2000, which did business as Food for Thought in Northern California.

The SEC considered whether or not the CEO had selectively disclosed material corporate information, which could violate a securities law passed in 2000 (known as Regulation Fair Disclosure) designed to prevent executives from sharing information with favored clients or analysts.


With the opening of a store in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, in May 2001 and plans to open one in Vancouver, it became an international company.

Amrion was renamed NatureSmart and operated as a separate subsidiary until May 10, 2001 when Whole Foods Market sold all of its interest in NatureSmart to NBTY, Inc.

Whole Foods Market acquired the three Harry's Farmers Market perishable megastores, a distribution center, a commissary kitchen, bakehouse and office facilities in October 2001.

2001: The company sells Amiron.

Rea said further that the $12.9 billion in natural/organic United States food sales represented 2.5 percent of the total United States food sales of $503 billion in 2001.


Also in February 2002, Value Line raised its revenue estimates for Whole Foods Market based on its acquisition of the three Atlanta-area Harry's Food Markets perishable superstores.

whole foods market reports first quarter fiscal year 2002 results: comparable store sales increase over nine percent for the fourth consecutive quarter. austin, tx: whole foods market, inc., 13 february 2002.

Value Line, Fortune, and Stockgroup in company profiles describe World Foods Markets Inc. as the world's largest retailer of natural and organic foods, Fortune adding that WFM pioneered the health foods supermarket concept. It was classified by Value Line in February 2002 as a mid cap stock with a $2.3 billion market cap.

"analysts information, whole foods market, inc.," 25 march 2002. available from www.cbs.marketwatch.com.

On April 4, 2002, its stock price was $44.58 with all cash dividends still being reinvested.

In 2002, the company continued its expansion in North America and opened its first store in Toronto, Ontario.

In 2002, eight regional distribution centers distributed natural products, produce, and private label products to WFM stores in their respective regions.


Further continuing its expansion, Select Fish of Seattle was acquired in 2003.

A seafood processing plant was opened in Atlanta in 2003, the year in which Whole Foods became the United States’ first national “certified organic” grocer.

The company set a new target of expanding to 140 stores by 2003, with most of the new stores coming through organic growth since Whole Foods had swallowed up most of its rivals.


The seven stores together with central kitchen and warehouse joined Whole Foods Market in January of 2004.

2004: Manhattan’s Largest Supermarket

In late 2004, it was reported that Whole Foods had "cleared $188 million in profits in the last two years."

In 2004, Whole Foods Market entered the UK by acquiring seven Fresh & Wild stores.


In 2005, Whole Foods opened its 80,000 sq ft (7,400 m) flagship store in downtown Austin.


Under the agreement, Whole Foods Market, Inc. would also assume Wild Oats Markets Inc.'s existing net debt totaling approximately $106 million as reported on September 30, 2006.

2006: Wall Street and Foodies Grow Disillusioned


In June 2007, it opened its first full-size store, a total of 80,000 sq ft (7,400 m) on three levels, on the site of the old Barkers department store on Kensington High Street, West London and currently their largest store in the world.

On June 27, 2007, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued an administrative complaint challenging Whole Foods Market, Inc.'s acquisition of Wild Oats Markets Inc.

On July 17, 2007, Whole Foods Market stated that its board had formed an independent committee to investigate the postings.

The merger took effect in 2007, after a court overruled the United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which had predicted an adverse effect on competition in the market for natural and organic groceries.

For example, 35 Henry's Farmers Market and Sun Harvest Market stores were sold to a subsidiary of Los Angeles grocer Smart & Final Inc. for $166 million in 2007.


The SEC cleared Mackey of the charges on April 25, 2008.

On July 29, 2008, the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia overturned the district court's decision allowing the merger.

The flagship Bristol branch closed because it had "not met profitability goals". In the year to September 28, 2008, the UK subsidiary lost £36 million due to a large impairment charge of £27 million and poor trading results due to the growing fears of global recession.

On October 2008, as part of the ongoing FTC antitrust investigation, Whole Foods Market subpoenaed detailed financial records, market studies, future strategic plans, and other information from New Seasons Market, a regional competitor based in the Portland area.

Whole Foods opened its first store in Hawaii in 2008 and in 2008 it also opened a southeast distribution center in Braselton, Georgia, calling it the first "green distribution center" for the company.


In 2009 Whole Foods agreed to sell the Wild Oats chain.


A first Scottish store was opened on November 16, 2011, in Giffnock, Glasgow.

However, in 2011, global sales grew +8% each financial quarter as shoppers returned to the chain.


A new UK store in Cheltenham opened on November 7, 2012, creating 150 jobs.


In 2013, Whole Foods said it would open around 40 more stores in Canada over time.


Along with new acquisitions, such as the 2014 purchase of seven Dominick's Finer Foods locations in Chicago, Whole Foods has also sold stores to other companies.


The current CEO’s are John Mackey and Walter Robb IV (Whole Foods Market History, 2015). Whole Foods Market stock ticker symbol is WFM and their NACIS code is 445110 (WFM Morningstar


Whole Foods later sold 13 stores to satisfy the objections of the FTC. In 2016 the company opened its first stores under the new name 365 by Whole Foods.


In February 2017, Whole Foods Market said it would close nine of its stores and lowered its financial projections for the year, as the natural-foods company struggled with increased competition and slowing sales growth.

In June 2017, Amazon purchased Whole Foods Market for $13.7 billion.

Whole Foods opened its second store in western New York in Amherst, a suburb of Buffalo in September 2017.

2017: Under Hedge Fund Duress


In 2018, Whole Foods Market announced its possible intention to take over some vacant Sears and Kmart stores and refurbish them after Sears Holdings Corporation, which owned both chains, filed for bankruptcy in October.


In April 2019, Whole Foods opened its largest store in the Southeast in Midtown Atlanta.


"Whole Foods Market, Inc. ." International Directory of Company Histories. . Retrieved June 22, 2022 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/books/politics-and-business-magazines/whole-foods-market-inc-0

Work At Whole Foods Market?
Share Your Experience
Company Founded
Company Headquarter
John MacKey,Walter Robb,Craig Weller,Mark Skiles,Renee Lawson
Company Founders
Get Updates for Jobs and News

Whole Foods Market Jobs Nearby

Whole Foods Market Jobs

Whole Foods Market Similar Companies

Company NameFounded DateRevenueEmployee SizeJob Openings
Sprouts Farmers Market2002$6.4B35,0001,973
Rite Aid1962$24.6B50,000751
BJ's Wholesale Club1984$19.3B25,0012,703
Panera Bread1981$2.8B140,0009,435
Find Jobs from Similar Companies
Personalize your job search. Where would you like to work?

Whole Foods Market Similar Companies Jobs

Whole Foods Market History FAQs

How Old Is Whole Foods Market?

Whole Foods Market is 45 years old.

Who Is The Founder Of Whole Foods Market?

John MacKey, Walter Robb, Craig Weller, Mark Skiles and Renee Lawson founded Whole Foods Market.

Zippia gives an in-depth look into the details of Whole Foods Market, including salaries, political affiliations, employee data, and more, in order to inform job seekers about Whole Foods Market. The employee data is based on information from people who have self-reported their past or current employments at Whole Foods Market. The data on this page is also based on data sources collected from public and open data sources on the Internet and other locations, as well as proprietary data we licensed from other companies. Sources of data may include, but are not limited to, the BLS, company filings, estimates based on those filings, H1B filings, and other public and private datasets. While we have made attempts to ensure that the information displayed are correct, Zippia is not responsible for any errors or omissions or for the results obtained from the use of this information. None of the information on this page has been provided or approved by Whole Foods Market. The data presented on this page does not represent the view of Whole Foods Market and its employees or that of Zippia.

Whole Foods Market may also be known as or be related to Whole Foods, Whole Foods Market, Whole Foods Market Inc, Whole Foods Market Inc., Whole Foods Market Services, Inc. and Whole Foods Market, Inc.