Amazon confirms plans for store under new grocery brand

An Amazon spokesman said the store would open in 2020 and that the brand will be distinct from Whole Foods. PHOTO: REUTERS

SEATTLE (BLOOMBERG) - Amazon plans to launch a new supermarket brand distinct from the Whole Foods Market chain the company acquired two years ago, a sign of the retail giant's hunger for a slice of the grocery market beyond high-end organic food.

The company has posted four job listings for "Amazon's first grocery store" in the Woodland Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles.

An Amazon spokeswoman confirmed the listings, and said the store would open in 2020.

The brand will be distinct from Whole Foods and will have a conventional checkout line, unlike the company's cashierless Amazon Go convenience stores, she said.

Amazon's plans for the store were reported earlier Monday (Nov 11) by CNET.

The e-commerce company purchased Whole Foods in a splashy US$13.7 billion deal two years ago, but has yet to make much headway in the US$900 billion US grocery industry.

The Whole Foods brand, finicky about what is allowed on store shelves based on its healthy food image, clashes with Amazon's desire to give customers whatever they want.

Amazon's rival Walmart, which captures about 25% of all US grocery spending, sells brands such as Pepsi and Cheetos that you won't find at Whole Foods.

Grocery industry analysts have speculated that Amazon might branch out with a new store where such products won't be seen as betrayal.

Amazon's sales from physical stores, the vast majority of which are purchases at Whole Foods stores, declined 1.3% to US$4.19 billion in the third quarter from a year earlier.

Amazon said the total doesn't include online sales from Whole Foods, but the Seattle-based company doesn't break out that figure.

The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this year that Amazon planned to open dozens of grocery stores under a new brand, starting with an outpost in Los Angeles.

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