Whole Paycheck? Nope, Customers Want Value: CEO
Whole Foods Market delivered a disappointing 2013 outlook as far as investors are concerned but the company's co-chief executive told CNBC on Friday that they recognize consumers are focused on value right now.
"You're seeing a backdrop, a background ... of generally kind of a little more uncertainty out there right now with the GDP growth and so forth," said Walter Robb, the company's co-CEO. "I think you're looking at customers that are more attenuated to value in the offerings."
To combat its reputation as "Whole Paycheck," the company has sought to keep prices down for consumers.
"Absolutely not," he said. "We don't see them as direct competitors. We're about quality first. That's who we are in the marketplace.We're not trying to be all things to all people, but we've got to always continue to bring good values to our customers, and that's how we're going to continue to grow this business to the potential we think that it has."
On Wednesday, Whole Foods shares fell after the grocery chain narrowed its forecast for fiscal year 2013. It predicts same-store sales will rise in a range of 6.6 percent to 8 percent in the 2013 fiscal year. The previous forecast called for an increase of between 6.5 percent and 8.5 percent.
Still, Robb said the company has accelerated its square footage growth while improving capital returns and value to shareholders, adding that "everything's on track."
"Basically our big growth story is intact," Robb said. "We continue to be bullish on the secular trends, and we think we're the leader in this category."
And he's still got his eye on expansion.
"If we can triple the number of stores we have in the United States, that's our goal," Robb said. "That's a big goal. That's the big prize we're going for here."