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Whole Foods gears up for rapid store growth

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AUSTIN, Texas — Whole Foods Market Inc. has unveiled aggressive expansion plans for 2011 and 2012.

Whole Foods Market Inc. has unveiled aggressive expansion plans for 2011 and 2012.

The natural and organic supermarket chain presently has 17 store openings planned for fiscal 2011 and 19 slated for fiscal 2012, up from 15 in the current year and 15 in fiscal 2009.

"As long as we can get good stores, we’re going to open as many as we can," said co-founder and co-chief executive officer John Mackey during a conference call. "We have the capital for it. We’ve got the infrastructure in place. We have the leadership."

Co-founder and co-chief executive officer Walter Robb further revealed that Whole Foods recently signed leases for six new sites, one each in San Francisco; Boise, Idaho; Minneapolis; and Washington, D.C.; and two here.

The fiscal 2011 new stores currently in development average 39,500 square feet, well below the 48,300-square-foot average of this year’s new stores.

Robb pointed out that the chain’s newer, smaller stores are producing higher sales per square foot and higher operating margins due to lower store expenses and occupancy costs.


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