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Whole Foods Set to Open First Lifestyle Store

Date: 23-Sep-05
Country: USA

The new store concept for Whole Foods, the leading US natural and organic foods retailer, will make its debut on Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood. While some Whole Foods food stores are about 50,000 square feet, the new lifestyle store will be far smaller, but will have a wide array of earth-friendly products.

"The opening of this store is interesting. It is showing that Whole Foods is thinking of ways it can build strong brand equity," said Neil Currie, retail analyst with investment bank UBS. "It's a sensible approach and a low-risk way of the company testing out a new concept to move into new product categories."

The lifestyle store will offer products such as organic blue jeans, recycled handbags and paint that is free from potentially harmful compounds. The Edun Clothing line by U2 lead singer Bono will be sold at the store along with organic, sweatshop free t-shirts from American Apparel. A selection of world music and collections of sustainable living books and magazines will also be available.

The store was built and decorated with environmentally friendly materials, including hemp curtains and reused furniture.

According to the Organic Consumer Association, 2005 sales of organic and natural products will top $45 billion, accounting for nearly 10 percent of all retail grocery sales across America.

"The sales of organic clothing and organic body care (products) are increasing faster than those of food," said Ronnie Cummins, National Director of the Organic Consumer Association. "Even though it is a relatively small market, sales are growing very rapidly."

Whole Foods stock has been on a roll for the past year. Its shares were trading at $128.05 on late afternoon trading, near the top end of its 52-week range of $139.69 and $79.03.

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Reuters
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