"has been losing traction recently as organic and fresh foods have become more popular at mainstream grocery chains. The company also early on earned the nickname 'Whole Paycheck' for how expensive it can be to shop there. Whole Foods is already negotiating leases for the new format and the stores will start opening next year. But executives declined to give details about where and how many, saying more information would come by Labor Day."
The news comes as Whole Foods disappointed investors by missing its profit estimates for the second quarter and by reporting lower than expected same-store sales.
Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods says in a statement that it is building a team to focus on the new concept, which it promises will be "unlike anything that currently exists in the marketplace." It's also negotiating leases for the new stores, which it expects to start opening next year.
Whole Foods expects a "fairly rapid" expansion of the new chain. Walter Robb, the co-chief executive officer of Whole Foods, says the company believes the growth potential for the new stores will be "as great as it is for our highly successful Whole Foods Market brand."
The company currently has 417 stores, and says it sees demand for some 1,200 Whole Foods stores in the U.S.