Whole Foods Market CEO John Mackey is angry about what he calls "greedy" investors who want to force a sale of the natural and organic food grocer.
Mackey has been at odds with activist investor Jana Partners, which purchased a stake in the chain of grocery stores and pushed to shake up its board of directors. Jana Partners, of New York, wants the Austin, Texas-based grocer to overhaul operations and to take a look at possible buyers, according to Bloomberg.
"Business sucks," Mackey told Texas Monthly for an article in its June edition. "It's the idea that business is about a bunch of greedy b******* running around exploiting people, screwing their customers, taking advantage of their employees, dumping their toxic waste in the environment, acting like sociopaths. (Whole Foods) is really, really trying to do the right thing."
The Whole Foods co-founder said he was upset that Jana Partners made its move in April as he began to launch his book store for "The Whole Foods Diet," noted Texas Monthly. Journalists learned that the hedge fund grabbed 9 percent of the company's stock and wanted to pressure Whole Foods to sell or overhaul.
"From that moment on, I was drowning in it, including when I got to Goldman Sachs," Mackey told Texas Monthly. "The CEO of Goldman [Lloyd Blankfein] wanted to meet with me because, of course 'Goldman Sachs would love to represent you. If you guys are going to be sold, we'd love to make one hundred million dollars doing that. Don’t forget your buddies at Goldman Sachs!'"
Bloomberg reported that Whole Foods' same-store sales have declined for seven straight quarters. While Whole Foods was virtually alone when it opened its first store in 1980, becoming a natural food powerhouse, now organic food is widely available at mainstream supermarkets.
Whole Foods attempted a shareholders truce in May by appointing five new members to its board and replacing the chairman, but Jana Partners continued its push, Bloomberg noted.
"Here's the thing. I'm just a guy," Mackey told Texas Monthly. "I'm an Austin, Texas, guy who built a business. It's a lot bigger than I ever thought it would be. I'm a little older, I'm a little bit wiser, but I'm still the same guy. I just show up as who I am.
"I'm not trying to bull**** anyone. I'm just showing up in my authentic self. Some people love that. Some people don't like the self that shows up. Ultimately, I don't really care. I'm just gonna be who I am, try to be a good person, do the right thing, build a great company, and let the world think what it wants to think," Mackey continued.
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