Whole Foods Market said it will triple its store count to 1,000, adding locations in smaller markets and underserved communities. The chain, which will open its first Detroit store in 2013, is in talks to bring stores to parts of Chicago and Newark, NJ which have little access to fresh food. Some of these areas have few or no grocery stores.
The strategy is a different one for the natural and organic retailing giant, which operates in over 80% of the states across the country.  The company hopes that focusing on smaller, underserved communities will help to accelerate its high growth plans. Co-CEO Walter Robb confirmed:  “We’re accelerating growth,” Robb said in an interview at the company’s Austin, Texas headquarters. “That’s going to take us places we have not been to before.” Recent new store openings in ‘smaller’ markets – those with populations of about 75,000 are up for consideration – include Glen Mills, Pennsylvania and West Des Moines, Iowa. It’s targeting Wichita, Kansas for another. Store sizes range from 15,000 square ft. to 75,000 sq. ft. and it is possible Whole Foods will have to shrink its average store size further in order to compete in smaller markets.

In late August, rumors were swirling that it Whole Food Market could possibly be in talks to acquire six supermarkets in the Boston area from Johnny’s Foodmaster, based in Chelsea, MA. Whole Foods had previously expanded in the area through the acquisition of the Bread & Circus chain.  The company famously increased its store size when it purchased the Wild Oats chain in 2007– a merger that generated controversy and scrutiny from the FTC. Smaller acquisitions like the aforementioned Foodmaster could also be in the company’s plans to help facilitate growth in smaller markets.

In the month of August, Chain Store Guide received 83 responses from supermarket chains with at least five locations. 7% of the companies surveyed said its locations are currently using an Android or Apple mobile product inside its stores, while 93% stated they currently are not using any mobile device.