Plan Text Version:
Only a few years ago, stories about Whole Foods Market became famous for their poetic quality as journalists waxed lyrical about how the fresh, organic fruit in any of their stores was proof that you could be a successful business while remaining environmentally friendly. However, last year sustained questioning by consumers and regulators saw the shine come off the company’s glossy image.
Most revealing of all the company’s CEO and Founder, John Mackay, was investigated for unethical behaviour after he was exposed posting investment advice on the internet under a pseudonym, talking his company up and attacking its main competitor Wild Oats. What made this all the more shocking was that at the time Wild Oats was the subject of a takeover bid by Whole Foods Market, leaving Mackay open to accusations of market rigging and fraud.
The company finished the year in a less than happy state of affairs. In the US its share price plummeted amid revelations it was refusing to support a scheme to raise migrant agricultural workers out of conditions likened to slavery. In the UK, despite the 2004 purchase of the Fresh & Wild chain, the company’s new European flagship store in Kensington struggled to draw customers and became embroiled in accusations that it had avoided paying for work permits by claiming American nationals were entering the UK solely to attend meetings.
The revolution, it would appear, is complete. What was once just another small, local natural foods retailer with a conscience has become just another multi-billion dollar corporation abandoning sustainability in order to satisfy a master on Wall Street. How did it all go wrong? (more…)