Whole Foods may open retail clinic chain
- Whole Foods co-CEO John Mackey told Bloomberg that the grocer may follow in the footsteps of Wal-Mart and other retailers and develop a healthcare clinic business.
- In addition to medical clinics, the company is also considering offering its Total Health Immersion program, which offers employees a week-long camp focused on nutrition and weight loss, to paying customers.
- In discussing his model for potential clinics with Bloomberg, Mackey pointed to Orlando, Florida's Rosen Hotels & Resorts. The hospitality chain offers employees on-site care in a company-owned facility, and, in doing so, has reportedly cut per-employee healthcare expenditures to approximately 50% of the national average.
As anyone who's ventured onto any the organic-friendly grocer's 400 or so pristine campuses knows, Whole Foods customers are a ripe market for wellness services. And there's brewing competition with Trader Joe's and similar food market entrants, so it needs a way to differentiate itself: Last year, Bloomberg reported that same-store sales growth fell from 8% to 4%, and the grocer's share price tumbled 10%.
However, analysts are hip to Whole Foods' new ideas on how to stay fresh—and focused on health. As Bloomberg noted, the stock is up almost 6% for January. What's more, in a recent note to investors, brokerage firm Sterne Agee upgraded its rating on the company from neutral to buy. The reason, according to a note to investors, was that Whole Foods management was "back to playing offense."
This is a company with the muscle to pull something like this off, and rest assured: Any clinic that Whole Foods offers will be heavy on the luxury.
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