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Amazon buys Whole Foods Market for £10.7 billion

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Amazon buying Whole Foods in bold move into brick and mortar

Most are barely in the online game (the average rating of Canadian grocers' iPhone apps is two out of five). But up until now, the e-commerce titan has managed to irrevocably alter the industry without making much of a dent in retail's biggest moneymaker of all-the $800 billion grocery business. It is a flawless match: Amazon needed stores and Whole Foods needed money.

Still, difficulties remain regarding fresh groceries. But given its ability to fuse efficient distribution and strong strategic market insight, it is quite foreseeable that Amazon could become the number one food retailer in Canada, and in North America. Consumers may want to consume that avocado today, or a few days from now, so the level of ripeness comes into play. If anything, the transaction is likely to foster an even more competitive environment, one that has already been escalated by a brewing price war.

According to a 2015 USDA survey, about nine out of 10 US households use their vehicles to go grocery shopping, driving an average one-way distance of four miles to get to a preferred store.

The music industry resisted change, even as consumers figured out how to download music for free, illegally. The locations are also typically smaller than comparable USA stores, with only six aisles versus 24 for their US counterparts.

The highly competitive and saturated grocery industry has been consolidating but is still fractured. Indeed, packaged-goods producers' businesses are already under stress, with manufactured-food volumes at large companies declining 4% this year, as consumers seek out less-processed fare.

Competition is nothing new to Kroger.

JD.com bought Wal-Mart Stores Inc's Chinese online platform Yihaodian for about $1.5 billion in shares in 2016. (NYSE: WMT) first entered the grocery business.

On the topic of keeping some of the grocer's approach, Amazon's Worldwide Consumer Chief, Jeff Wilke, said at Friday's town hall that Whole Foods' healthier options helped change how people think about food.

Kroger has been preparing for the German invasion by cutting prices in competing locations.

China's firms and their global rivals are increasingly looking to tap into overseas market such as South East Asia and India, the most likely battlegrounds for any stand-off. In Q3 2017, the company exceeded analysts' estimates with revenue growth of 8% year on year and a 5% increase in comparable sales. Earnings per share recently came in at $1.40, beating estimates by $0.09.

The headline, though, was the decrease in same-store sales - which fell by 0.2%, excluding fuel - the third consecutive quarterly decline.

Groceries are already a fiercely competitive business, with low-priced rivals like Aldi putting pressure on traditional supermarket chains and another discounter, Lidl, opening its first USA stores just this week.

More selection, lower prices and delivery accuracy will be the pillars of a successful acquisition.

The news wasn't all bad. Unimpressed investors have sent the retailer's shares down 30 percent this year. This has seen the share prices of incumbent retailers in Amazon's core categories of electronics and fashion negatively impacted over the last 6 to 9 months.

In May it took an 18 percent stake in Lianhua Supermarket Holdings Co Ltd, part of retailer Bailian Group.

There are still plenty of unknowns about how Amazon plans to merge the Whole Foods mainline brand and the company's middle-tier chain of stores known as 365 into its broader e-commerce empire.

When investing geniuses David and Tom Gardner have a stock tip, it can pay to listen. Don't believe me? Google: drunk Amazon shopping. "I don't think it means they have to buy something right away, but they do have to get bigger".

While online sales now account for just a couple of percentage points of total grocery sales, Amazon's entry into the marketplace will likely accelerate the trend industrywide. For example, as an alternative to home delivery, Amazon could allow customers to pick up their package at the nearest Whole Foods and earn bonus points or some other reward for helping the retailer reduce its shipping costs.

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