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article imageWhole Foods will slash 1500 jobs to offer consumers lower prices

By Megan Hamilton     Sep 29, 2015 in Business
Whole Foods Inc. announced on Monday that it is cutting about 1,500 jobs over the next eight weeks in an effort to lower prices and keep up with the competition.
The cuts make up about 1.6 of the company's workforce.
The grocery chain said in a regulatory filing that the bulk of the reductions will be made through attrition, The Associated Press reports. The company says its likely that employees whose jobs are cut will find other jobs within the nearly 2,000 positions across the company, or from new jobs that will be created since there are more than 100 new stores in development.
Whole Foods reports it has created almost 35,000 jobs over the last five years and has added over 9,000 jobs in the past year.
Consumerist notes that employees affected by this are being offered several options, such as transition pay, severance, and, in some cases, the chance to apply for other jobs.
"This is a very difficult decision, and we are committed to treated affected Team Members in a caring and respectful manner...We will pay these Team Members in full over the next eight weeks as they decide which option to choose," said Walter Robb, co-CEO of Whole Foods Market, in a statement. "We believe this is an important step to evolve Whole Foods Market in a rapidly changing marketplace."
The going has been a bit rough for the company lately, after it was hit by bad publicity when New York City officials found it was allegedly overcharging customers. New York City's Department of Consumer Affairs said that Whole Foods stores were overstating the weight of some of its' pre-packaged foods, such as chicken tenders and a vegetable platter, according to the AP.
Investigators uncovered evidence of some 800 violations at Whole Foods stores, beginning in 2010, Consumerist reports, with overcharges ranging from $.80 to almost $15.
"By any measure, it had a significant impact on our sales," Robb said during an earnings call in July. "If trust is broken, it has to be rebuilt a step at a time."
The chain says it is taking steps to prevent overcharging by doing things like providing training for workers and it has pledged to give away products if consumers discovered they were overcharged, the AP reports.
Whole Foods is also facing stiff competition because many of the organic offerings it's known for are becoming more widely available.
The chain did not say which positions will be cut, USA Today reports.
In an effort to appeal to younger shoppers, the company plans to open "365" an off-price chain which focuses on less expensive groceries. Thus far, five locations have been announced for the new stores, which are expected to open next year.
The company currently employees about 91,000 workers and has 431 stores in the U.S., U,K., and Canada.
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