Whole Foods Market's Unique Work Culture and Practices

            
 
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Case Details:

Case Code: HROB086
Case Length: 23 Pages
Period: 1978 -2006
Organization: Whole Foods Market
Pub Date: 2006
Teaching Note: Available
Countries: USA
Industry: Retail

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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.



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Background

The history of WFM goes back to 1978, when John Mackey (Mackey), a college dropout from Texas, and his friend Renee Lawson Hardy (Hardy), started an organic foods store in Austin, Texas. The store was called Safer Way Natural Foods (after Safeway Inc. 7), and the partners opened it with a capital of $45,000 8 borrowed from their friends and families.

Safer Way was a 3,000 square foot store, which primarily sold organic food and groceries. The store also contained a small restaurant. The store and the restaurant were strictly vegetarian, and the partners sourced their supplies from local communities.

Human Resource and Organization Behavior | Case Study in Management, Operations, Strategies, Human Resource and Organization Behavior, Case Studies

It wasn't long before Safer Way found a loyal clientele, but Mackey and his partner had had no business training, and found it difficult to run the business. By the end of the first year, the store had lost $23,000.

In the 1970s, there were only a handful of organic food stores in the US. These stores were usually small and did not offer much variety in terms of merchandise. None of them offered a full range of products. (Some specialized in vegetables, others in meat, and so on. There was no place where people could get a complete range of organic products under one roof). Because of this, people who were committed to organic food had to put up with the inconvenience of having to visit several different stores to do their shopping. The products were also thought to be too expensive, considering the poor ambience of the stores and the inconvenience to shoppers. Because of this, there were few takers for organic or natural foods at that time.

Excerpts >>


7] Safeway Inc. was a major food and drugs retailer in the US. As of December 31, 2005, the company operated 1,775 stores in the United States and Canada, and had revenues of $38.4 billion.
8] Dollars ($) refers to US dollars in this case study.

 

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