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Whole Foods Market plans to cut 1,500 jobs over the next eight weeks as part of its efforts to reduce prices and invest in technology upgrades, the company said Monday.
The elimination of the 1,500 jobs, which represent 1.6 percent of the Austin-based grocer's overall workforce, will be managed through natural attrition, according to the company.
Whole Foods said it expects a "significant percentage" of affected associates to find other jobs from the nearly 2,000 open positions across the company, or through new jobs created from the more than 100 new stores in development.
The company added more than 9,000 new jobs in the past year and created nearly 35,000 over the past five years.
“This is a very difficult decision, and we are committed to treating affected Team Members in a caring and respectful manner," said Co-CEO Walter Robb, adding that Whole Foods has "offered them several options including transition pay, a generous severance, or the opportunity to apply for other jobs.
"In addition, we will pay these Team Members in full over the next eight weeks as they decide which option to choose," added Robb. “We believe this is an important step to evolve Whole Foods Market in a rapidly changing marketplace.”
Whole Foods has been under fire in recent months, including a lawsuit filed last week by PETA, alleging that the grocer deceives its customers regarding its claims of humane treatment of animals raised for meat.
In late June, Whole Foods was accused by New York City's Department of Consumers Affairs (DCA), claiming locations in the Big Apple were guilty of "systemic overcharging of its customers for prepackaged food." Whole Foods has since stated that it is taking steps to prevent overcharging in the future.
Whole Foods employs about 91,000 associates at its 431 stores across the U.S., U.K. and Canada.