Whole Foods Reopens its Closed 365 Store after Lawsuit
SEATTLE, WA – After closing up shop in October, Whole Foods joins the ranks of retailers and major chains, like Starbucks, who are legally being forced to reopen closed store locations. Last week, a King County Superior Court judge ruled in favor of Bellevue Square shopping center mall owners who sued Whole Foods for breaking a long-term lease, and is forcing the grocer to reopen a Seattle-area 365 store in the next fourteen days.
Despite the store’s sales not meeting the grocer’s projections after its September 2016 opening, the Seattle Times reports Whole Foods claimed the closure was related to issues at the site, rather than a reassessment of the 365-store concept.
In the original 20-year lease, the grocer had committed to keeping the 34,000-square-foot site open seven days a week for the first ten years after opening. While Whole Foods has continued to pay rent, which its attorneys argue satisfies its lease obligations, the judge decreed the lease contained no provision that allowed Whole Foods to vacate the store if the it was deemed unprofitable.
“We don’t want a check,” David Nold, the Bellevue lawyer representing the mall, told the Seattle Times. “We want Whole Foods to open and operate.”
Whole Foods is the second major chain involved in lawsuits filed by property owners that has been forced to reopen after closing. According to a report by Business Insider, a judge also ruled in a separate case that Starbucks must keep operating 77 Teavana stores that it had planned to close.
Whole Foods also found itself in the spotlight after it was reported that the grocer’s prices were back on the rise despite Amazon’s efforts to lower them. The grocer's 365 stores, however, are smaller and less expensive to run then its mainstream markets.
Will Whole Foods find success once again at its reopened 365-store and beyond in 2018? AndNowUKnow will continue to report as the story unfolds.