Natural foods retailer announces plans for Kennesaw location.
Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods Market will open its eleventh Georgia location in Kennesaw in 2016. The approximately 45,000 square foot grocery store will anchor Fuqua Development's planned "Barrett Parkway" mixed-use development at the intersection of US 41 (Cobb Parkway) and Barrett Parkway. Although Fuqua's site states that the project's estimated completion is "Spring 2015," the official Whole Foods Market announcement says the store won't open until "2016."
The Fuqua project will occupy some 50 acres and will be home to a "regional sporting goods store, restaurants and other specialty retailers."
Whole Foods Market entered the Atlanta market with as single location at the corner of Briarcliff & LaVista Roads in 1999.
Today, the natural foods grocer operates a total of eight stores in Georgia including their recently opened store in Savannah. Whole Foods also operates two Harry's Farmers Market locations in Alpharetta and Marietta. Later this fall, a ninth Whole Foods Market is slated to open in the Avalon development in Alpharetta. The store will be 48,000 square feet and will anchor the mixed-use project. A new 41,000 square foot store is also slated to open late this year in Augusta.
Alhough Whole Foods Market (NASDAQ: WFM) recently reported lower than expected financial results, the company sees continuing demand for healthy and organic products. Whole Foods Market, which was founded in 1980, today operates 373 stores and sees demand for 1,200 Whole Foods Market stores in the U.S. alone. "The company has signed 57 new leases over the past 12 months and says it will cross the 500-store mark in 2017."
In Atlanta, regional competitors such as Greensboro, North Carolina-based The Fresh Market as well as nationwide names like Trader Joe's, continue to expand, and in some cases, steal market share from Whole Foods. At the same time, Cincinnati, Ohio-based Kroger and Lakeland, Florida-based Publix continue to expand the organic and natural foods selections of their 100+ Georgia stores. Kroger, with their Simple Truth and Simple Truth Organic brands, and Publix with its GreenWise product line, both private labels, are allowing the mainstream grocers to take customers and market share from natural foods stores like Whole Foods and The Fresh Market.
Starting in June, Phoenix, Arizona-based Sprouts Farmers Market will enter the metro area with the opening of stores in Snellville (June 11) and Dunwoody (June 25). The following few months will bring the opening of additional Sprouts stores in Johns Creek, Norcross and Cumming. A handful of additional Sprouts are in the works for 2015 and 2016, but as Sprouts is now a publicly traded company (NASDAQ:SFM), they are especially tight-lipped about their expansion plans.
Asheville, North Carolina-based Earth Fare is also expanding into metro Atlanta with plans for a handful of as-yet-unconfirmed locations both ITP and OTP. Although company reps have not publicly confirmed it, well placed sources indicate that one of the first EarthFare stores in metro Atlanta will open at the Collection at Forsyth (previously Avenues Forsyth). The natural foods grocer is planning a number of new locations with this scheduled to be among their first, with a planned opening during the second half of 2015. The store will be built along Ronald Reagan Boulevard in a currently undeveloped portion of the center. Another possible location is the soon to close Loehmann's store at Loehmann's Plaza near the intersection of Briarcliff and North Druid Hills Roads. Property owner Regency Centers has said that they are in talks with a "natural foods grocer," and I'd speculate that EarthFare is a leading candidate for the space.