The cuts are reportedly slated to eliminate marketers, graphic designers, creative coordinators and store graphic artists in the Austin-based organic grocer's stores and regional offices.
Amazon-owned Whole Foods Market is laying off employees on its regional marketing teams, according to a person familiar with the plans.
The cuts are slated to eliminate marketers, graphic designers, creative coordinators and store graphic artists in the Austin-based organic grocer’s stores and regional offices, the person said.
Employees were informed of the layoff during conference calls Thursday. Business Insider, which reported on the cuts Friday, obtained a recording of one such call.
“While we continue to grow in many areas, we recently determined a need to better align staffing,” Whole Foods spokesperson Robin Kelly said in an emailed statement, confirming layoffs but not where they fell. “This decision was not made lightly, and we are working closely with impacted Team Members to help them find new roles within the company.”
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It’s unclear how many jobs are being cut.
The layoffs are the latest changes at Whole Foods since Amazon sealed the $13.5 billion acquisition of the grocer in August. The Seattle company wasted no time integrating Whole Foods into its operations, rolling out promotions with the Amazon Prime membership program, placing Amazon package-delivery points in hundreds of stores, and using select Whole Foods sites as depots for quick grocery delivery.
There have also been reports of tensions, not an uncommon feature of big corporate deals, as an online-retail conglomerate with a reputation for speed, efficiency and relentless drive linked up with a grocer famous for quality products and relatively generous treatment of employees. The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that more than a dozen Whole Foods executives and senior managers have left the company since the acquisition was announced, some of whom cited differences in corporate culture and a lack of communication from Amazon.
Whole Foods chief executive John Mackey and Amazon vice president Steve Kessel, who oversees Whole Foods, responded with statements saying the integration was proceeding well.
The layoffs announced this week appear to further centralize operations at Whole Foods, which formerly gave wide leeway to local managers to customize the look and feel of stores and the food on their shelves.
“Everything that makes Whole Foods unique, like the custom chalks and in-house designs, will now go away and just be preshipped” from headquarters, the person familiar with the cuts said.
The company’s 11 regional U.S. offices — the Northwest headquarters is in Bellevue — long played a major role in purchasing items, leading to local flavor and success stories like Justin’s nut butter, formerly a one-man operation that took off when founder Justin Gold walked into a Boulder, Colo., Whole Foods and asked to speak to the store’s buyer.
In an effort to cut costs and exact more favorable terms from suppliers, Whole Foods, before the Amazon acquisition, began to centralize more of its purchasing at the national level.