Whole Foods Market’s Jason Buechel to Increase Pace of New Store Openings

Whole Foods Market CEO Jason Buechel unveiled his new strategic plan, called “Growing with Purpose,” during a quarterly town hall meeting with employees in early January. Buechel succeeded John Mackey as CEO of Whole Foods on September 1st after serving as chief operating officer of the Austin, Texas-based chain since 2019. He outlined a 10-year plan that involves growing the company’s footprint in new and existing markets. The company currently has 50 stores in the development pipeline, but Buechel says he intends to double that number of stores in development. The chain opened 11 stores in 2022, but the long-term strategy is to open 30 or more stores per year in order to serve more customers. On February 1st, the first Whole Foods Market opened in Montana – now the 44th state in which the company operates. “This is a pivotal moment in time as we turn the page to Whole Foods Market’s next chapter,” Buechel said in a press release. “I’m so excited to share how we will deliver on our higher purpose, including commitments to environmental stewardship, significant financial investment into our team member experience, plans to set company records for new store growth, and the possibility of reaching new markets around the globe in the next decade. These are achievements that would have been beyond imagination when the first Whole Foods Market opened in Austin, Texas, more than 40 years ago.”

Buechel discussed the heightened expansion plans at the National Retail Federation conference in New York City last month. While he could not get into specifics, Buechel stated that his company is looking at new formats for the expansion. “We’ve got an Idea Market store in Denver, as an example, where we’re looking at ways of creating a more curated selection.” The selection, he said, is based around customer feedback including a desire for more sustainability, less plastic, and more organic offerings. “We’re looking at a number of other concepts as well, which today either are physical stores you may not be able to get the real estate we’re looking for, or ultimately new ways that we can serve customers and how we might lay out a store the size and shape, etc.” Whole Foods Market currently operates 534 stores overall, including 513 in the United States (43 states and the District of Columbia), 14 in Canada and seven in the United Kingdom.