LONDON, June 6, 2007 /PRNewswire-FirstCall via COMTEX/ -- Whole Foods Market(R) (WFMI) , the world's leading natural and organic foods supermarket, today opens its flagship United Kingdom store in Central London. The landmark 80,000-square-foot store is the first Whole Foods Market in Europe and marks a major step in expanding the company's brand beyond North America. Whole Foods Market currently operates 189 stores in the United States and Canada, as well as five Fresh & Wild shops in the UK.
"Whole Foods Market is committed to the goal of being the finest food shop in every community we serve, and our new London store will offer a fresh, vibrant choice," said John Mackey, Whole Foods Market CEO and co-founder. "We want our shoppers to celebrate the joys of eating and living well. We hope Whole Foods Market will continue to prompt change in the way people think about and shop for food."
What sets Whole Foods Market apart is its long-standing commitment to its stringent quality standards. The grocer only offers the highest quality natural and organic foods -- all free of artificial flavors, sweeteners, colors, preservatives and hydrogenated fats.
The new store, opening at 10 a.m. following a bread-breaking ceremony, is spread across three floors within the historic Barkers building on High Street Kensington. Restored and updated, yet retaining its unique art deco styling, the space has been transformed to offer a fresh and distinctive approach to the UK grocery shopping experience with excellent customer service, food sampling and prepared foods selections mingling with thousands of fresh, organic and all natural ingredients. A vibrant food hall on the top floor features 13 dining venues with seating for more than 350 diners.
Over its nearly 27 year history, Whole Foods Market has helped to revolutionize the way Americans eat and think about food. Not only has the company worked since its founding to promote natural and organic foods, it is a leader in supporting small, local food artisans. With its store-based buying program, every Whole Foods Market store tailors itself to its community by seeking out and offering as many local culinary treasures as possible.
"Our Fresh & Wild stores have long been a part of the food community in London, and we have developed long-term, fruitful relationships with local growers and producers. The result is an exciting and plentiful array of organic and UK-grown food in an environment where we are eagerly waiting to satisfy and delight our shoppers," said Rick Bonin, executive store team leader at Whole Foods Market in London.
In the new store, many products are sourced from inside the UK. As with all Whole Foods Market stores, the new London store meets the company's rigorous standards for customer service and food quality. More than 500 Team Members have joined the company at the new location to share their passion for food and customer service.
"We have skilled butchers, scratch bakers and even our own store artists! We also have fishmongers, chefs, cheese artisans and knowledgeable Team Members handcrafting fresh foods right in front of our shoppers. We work to make food shopping fun because we believe food should be celebrated," Bonin said.
Ground Level: Provision Hall
As shoppers enter the new London store, they will be greeted by tantalizing aromas from the in-house bakery within "Provision Hall," a name used for the ground level at the original Barkers store. The bakery's offerings include handmade breads, cakes, tarts and custards. Shoppers can pick up freshly brewed tea or coffee to take away or to enjoy while shopping. Provision Hall also features a cheese room, where shoppers can taste and select the finest cheeses from Britain and around the world with cut-to-order service. For easy pairing, an amazing assortment of specialty items such as olives, marinated artichokes and peppers, and other antipasti await shoppers. Whole Foods Market's extensive wine department offers more than 1,000 different labels. At the adjoining wine and cheese bar, superior wines are paired with cheese, smoked meat and raclette.
Every day, a team of 55 in-store chefs will create a broad range of deliciously tempting, restaurant-quality prepared foods at Market Kitchen. With large salad, soup and hot food bars, as well as an expansive chef's case, Whole Foods Market prepared foods options are abundant.
Lower Level: Market Hall
Moving downstairs to "Market Hall," a wide range of fresh fruit and vegetables, extensive meat and fish selections and more than 10,000 grocery items are available. Along the produce department is a large self-service bulk foods center where shoppers can select just the amount they desire from nearly 100 options including nuts, oats and grains. Shoppers can mix their own muesli and grind their own nut butters. The vast array of items in the grocery aisles include Whole Foods Market's own UK house brands of pantry staples -- Fresh & Wild Everyday Value(TM) and Fresh & Wild Organic Everyday Value(TM)-- which adhere to the Company's strict quality standards.
In the meat and seafood areas, knowledgeable Team Members are ready to help select or hand-cut from the full range available. More than 40 varieties of house-made sausage and 20 varieties of meat pies and savory tarts are available. For the meat lover seeking the most tender selections, Whole Foods Market has an in-house dry aging case. Through extra humidity and time, great cuts of Scottish beef are tenderized to perfection. At the new London store, Whole Foods Market is launching its new Five-Step Animal Welfare Rating Program, which allows shoppers to easily understand how the meats they are buying were raised and treated.
The expansive 12-meter seafood counter features options including fresh-cut and whole fish, crabs, shellfish and convenient oven-ready selections such as nori-wrapped miso salmon. Whole Foods Market promotes sustainable seafood practices by working with responsible fisheries and fishermen; many of the fish are hook-and-line caught off the shores of the UK.
Also within Market Hall is Whole Body, the company's range of natural and organic body care and cosmetics. Customers can sample new lotions and other body care products or consult with Team Members on an expanded selection of yoga products and supplements. Organic cotton apparel for adults and children are featured alongside organic alternatives for home necessities, such as linens and towels.
First Floor: Upstairs at the Market
On the first floor, "Upstairs at the Market", you can enjoy a wide selection of eateries, combining food and fun with 13 dining choices. From the sit-down experiences of the tapas bar, the champagne and oyster bar, the pub, and the sushi and dim sum eatery to the open format of the other venues, Whole Foods Market offers plenty of choices to satisfy every diner's palate. Choices from Jamon Croquettes, gazpacho with saffron mussels and fresh salads to house-made gelato, fresh juices, soups, pizza, fresh oysters, vegan dishes and decadent desserts make Whole Foods Market a food lover's paradise.
Commitment to the Environment
Whole Foods Market actively supports organic farming as the best method for promoting sustainable agriculture and for protecting the environment and farm workers.
In addition, the store:
* Partners with wind power supplier Ecotricity to offset 100 percent of
* Compacts all shrink wrap from deliveries and sends to processing
plants to be recycled
* Offers plastic bags made from 100 percent post-consumer waste
* Provides food boxes made from compostable bulrush and sugar cane
* Offers full recycling for glass, tin, paper and plastic
* Serves as a full access point for recyclable returns for shoppers
* Uses eco-friendly packaging for prepared foods
* Composts all food waste
* Gives coffee grinds to shoppers for use in their gardens
* Bails and recycles cardboard, plastic and polystyrene with waste
* Chooses organic cotton shirts and recycled polyester aprons for Team
* Uses reusable and washable bowls and flatware for meals eaten
* Consolidates shipments and limits the number of delivery vehicles
entering London's congestion zone
* Sources local food as much as possible
Whole Foods Market is a uniquely mission-driven company and one of its core values is to be an active community citizen. Company-wide, it donates five percent of profits annually to a variety of non-profit organizations in addition to hosting quarterly five percent days, during which the store donates five percent of a day's sales to a local non-profit organization. Currently, Whole Foods Market is partnering with the Royal Parks Foundation. Proceeds from the store's opening benefit party support the Foundation's efforts to replace the parks' trees in Kensington Gardens, nearby the store.