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(Whole Foods photo)

Whole Foods shareholders on Wednesday approved the company’s pending acquisition by Amazon.

The vote paves the way for the $13.7 billion transaction to close later this year. It is still subject to regulatory approval.

The deal will give Amazon a massive physical retail footprint. Whole Foods, which started in Austin, Texas in 1980, operates 468 stores in North America and the United Kingdom. Amazon has begun building out its own retail footprint, with two AmazonFresh Pickup stores opening in Seattle, the first checkout-free Amazon Go and a growing complement of bookstores.

It’s unclear how Amazon plans to integrate its technology into Whole Foods or what changes the retail giant might make to grocer’s business. At the time of the announcement of the deal in June Amazon said it had no plans for layoffs or to automate Whole Foods stores using the technology it is developing for Amazon Go.

The deal also puts Amazon in more direct competition with Walmart, the nation’s biggest grocer that just inked a deal with Google.

Whole Foods has struggled for the past few years to grow sales. In the latest quarter, Whole Foods same-store sales dropped 1.9 percent — the eighth straight quarterly decline in that key metric, according to a Reuters report.

Shares of Whole Foods have been holding steady around $42 since the deal was announced in June.

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