ATLANTA, United States — Whole Foods Market has opened a standalone restaurant in the US, as it continues to experience a downturn in its fortunes.
The Roast, a freestanding Brazilian Churrasco-inspired restaurant in Atlanta, offers customers fast-casual convenience combined with Whole Foods Market’s longstanding principles. Much like the produce sold across the organic grocer’s stores, every ingredient used at The Roast meets rigorous quality standards and is free of artificial flavours, colours, sweeteners, preservatives and hydrogenated fats.
Having struggled with a loss of brand identity over the last few years, Whole Foods’ latest move is unlikely to do little to alter customer perception. However, it could hint at a new future for the business –– and in the midst of a two-year sales slump, it’s a route that’s worth exploring
With Kroger, Wal-Mart, Costco and a host of other retailers having entered the organic market in recent years, when it comes to groceries Whole Foods’ position had changed dramatically. Coupled with mounting pressure from shareholders to boost profits, the company has been forced to experiment with a number of new initiatives of late.
In addition to Whole Foods 365 — the brand’s affordable store concept, which launched in 2016, in an attempt to extend its offerings to a broader audience— operationally the business has also started to use customer data to improve how it stocks its products.
Read more: Whole Foods 365 Concept To Open In New York
According to Bloomberg, the flailing grocery chain is currently focusing on relocating smaller stores to bigger nearby locations, with a view to create flagships that double as dining destinations. It’s a strategy that rests on building emotional connections with customers, and one that has the potential to go hand in hand with the standalone restaurant concept.
“We’re not making these changes randomly— it’s very data-driven,” explained CEO, John Mackey in an interview. But despite the company’s attempts at innovation, having lost over 14 million customers to competitors will make regaining a foothold in the market tougher than ever.