Whole Foods to close 9 stores, including 2 in Colorado

Stores in Boulder, Colorado Springs will close April 9

Margaux Jacobs pushes a cart of groceries as she leaves the Whole Foods Market at Baseline and Broadway in Boulder on Thursday afternoon. Paul Aiken / Staff Photographer / Feb 9 2017
Paul Aiken, Daily Camera

Whole Foods Market Inc. will close nine stores and scale back on expansion plans, the starkest sign yet of challenges facing the pioneering natural-foods grocer.

The stores slated for closure include two each in Colorado and California, along with outlets in Chicago, New Mexico, Utah, Arizona and Georgia. Whole Foods has closed stores in the past but hasn’t announced such a large number at one time.

 In Colorado, the two closing locations are Boulder Baseline, 2584 Baseline Road, and Colorado Springs First & Main, 3180 New Center Point, a Whole Foods spokeswoman confirmed Thursday. Both stores will close April 9.

“This was not a decision that was made lightly and we are working with all affected team members to find alternative positions at nearby stores,” spokeswoman Betsy Harden said in an e-mail.

Last year, Whole Foods said it saw potential to add more than 1,200 stores in the U.S. The company abandoned that target Wednesday, as executives said they would wait to see how a round of about 100 stores that have opened recently, or are set to open, perform before making growth commitments.

On a call with investors Wednesday, Chief Executive John Mackey said Whole Foods is taking steps to adapt in a food-retail market where “the more conventional, mainstream supermarkets have upped their game…the world is very different today than it was five years ago.”

Whole Foods shares declined 3.8 percent, to $28.19 in after-hours trading on Wednesday. The company’s stock has lost more than half its value since its most recent peak in 2013.

Mackey said the stores set to close primarily are older, smaller locations that Whole Foods had acquired. Many were located near a larger, more modern Whole Foods or occupied space with leases that were due to expire.

Read more of this story in The Denver Post.