The interview


The U.S. food retailer Whole Foods Market pins growth on natural products

Rob Twyman is the President of Whole Foods Market for North California


Sophie Baqué met Mr. Rob Twyman, President of Whole Foods Market for North California. The U.S. food retailer of organic and natural products shows an insolent growth (between +4% and +15% for 5 years) in a very competitive retail landscape. He is known as a passionate and pragmatic team leader.


Sophie Baqué: Whole Foods Market is the largest retailer of natural and organic products in the U.S.A. Could you please highlight the group?
Rob Twyman: We run 431 stores in 3 countries, with 412 in the U.S.A., 10 in Canada and 9 in the U.K. In the year to September 2015, our sales should increase by 4% to US$ 15.4 billion (unaudited results). Total sales growth between 2010 and 2015 varied between +4% and +15%.


S.B.: Where does this growth come from?
Rob Twyman: The U.S. food market has gone through a natural and organic revolution for a decade. Our mission is simple: offering natural and organic products to a wide range of people, encouraging healthy eating. We opened 40 stores in 2014. Whole Foods also grew via external growth, taking over Bread & Circus in 1992 and Mrs. Gooch's in 1993. We gained 109 supermarkets with Wild Oats in 2007 as well as growing our own store network by 20%. Whole Foods has been selling in Canada since 2002, and in Britain since 2004 (purchase of 7 Fresh & Wild stores).


S.B.: What about expanding into the non-English speaking world?
Rob Twyman: Whole Foods has no current plan to enter a new country, but I have learnt never to say “never”. Becoming a global retailer is long and expensive. In the U.K., we adapted our sales strategy to the British culture (as yoghurts and porridges are much more developed than in the U.S.A.) and to the competition (we offered “click & collect” and delivery on day one). Adherence to the business model must be matched by…




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Summary of November 2015

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Interview. Whole Foods Market’s lessons from the U.S.A. in grocery retail

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Legal viewpoint. How to efficiently protect an international retail brand?