Amazon to buy Whole Foods Market

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       Tesco posted quarterly sales growth on Friday

The acquisition is expected to close towards the end of the second quarter or the beginning of the third quarter of Wal-Mart's fiscal year ending January 2018, the company said.

Shares of Amazon were up $32.85, or 3.4%, following the news to $997.02, while Whole Foods shares climbed $8.92, or almost 27%, to $41.98.

The deal unites the online juggernaut with the grocery store chain that fell behind as the organic and natural foods it helped popularize expanded to more locations and shoppers found "good enough" alternatives. Meanwhile, the more than 460 Whole Foods stores in the U.S., Canada and the United Kingdom could be turned into distribution hubs - not just for delivering groceries but as pickup centers for online orders.

As sales have slumped, Whole Foods executives have tried to highlight what distinguishes it from rivals. Discounters, like Aldi, and other online grocers have made their way in, too. "I assume the physical presence gives them the ability to distribute other products more locally".

Amazon founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos said: "Millions of people love Whole Foods Market because they offer the best natural and organic foods, and they make it fun to eat healthy".

The grocer will continue to operate stores under the Whole Foods Market brand, the companies said.

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Mackey will stay as CEO, and the headquarters will stay in Austin, Texas. He will remain the company's CEO.

Whole Foods, which will keep operating stores under its name, said in an email to customers, that it will maintain the same standards under Amazon, including bans on artificial flavors and colors and antibiotics in hens producing its eggs. Whole Foods responded by remaking its board of directors and replacing the chief financial officer.

"They're under a lot of pressure to create shareholder value and turn back to a growth story", said Greg Wank, head of the Food and Beverage Industry Group at New York-based accounting and consulting firm Anchin Block and Anchin. Amazon shares gained 3.2% to $995. The company reported sales of US$15.7 billion in 2016.

Amazon's biggest acquisition announced to date came in 2014, when it agreed to buy video-game service Twitch Interactive Inc. for $970 million in cash, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. "That's their ecosystem. That's where the Prime members are".

Amazon, the e-commerce behemoth that sells everything from toothpaste to tennis shoes, has announced it will purchase grocery store Whole Foods for $13.7bn (£10.7bn).

Moody's lead retail analyst Charlie O'Shea said the deal could be "transformative, not just for food retail, but for retail in general".

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