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Whole Foods Market opening new store in West Ashley next year

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Whole Foods Market is planning to open a new store at the corner of Savannah Highway and Farmfield Drive in West Ashley. The store will share a parking lot with the Doscher’s supermarket currently in the shopping center. (Photo/Ashley Heffernan)Whole Foods Market is planning to open a new store at the corner of Savannah Highway and Farmfield Drive in West Ashley. The store will share a parking lot with the Doscher’s supermarket currently in the shopping center. (Photo/Ashley Heffernan)

By Ashley Heffernan
aheffernan@scbiznews.com
Published Feb. 24, 2016

The Lowcountry’s second Whole Foods Market will open next year in West Ashley.

The national grocery chain is planning a 45,022-square-foot store adjacent to the Doscher’s supermarket in the shopping center at the corner of Savannah Highway and Farmfield Drive in West Ashley, according to Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg.

Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg said everything currently in the shopping center will be removed, including the service station at the corner of Savannah Highway and Farmfield Drive. (Photo/Ashley Heffernan)Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg said everything currently in the shopping center will be removed, including the service station at the corner of Savannah Highway and Farmfield Drive. (Photo/Ashley Heffernan)

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“Last month, in my first State of the City address, I laid out a comprehensive vision and plan for revitalization, a renaissance, of West Ashley to improve our neighborhoods and have them stronger and more beautiful — but also to provide better citizen services and a more varied and vibrant economy,” Tecklenburg said today during a news conference announcing the store. “Part of that is having an excellent base of retailers.”

Tecklenburg said the Doscher’s supermarket will remain where it is and will share a parking lot with Whole Foods. Everything else currently in the shopping center will be removed, including the service station at the corner.

The mayor said he doesn’t expect Whole Foods to take business away from the smaller, family-owned supermarket.

“They really have a different customer base and loyalty. ... They’ve been in our community a long time. I think the two businesses will complement each other,” Tecklenburg said.

Omar Gaye, Whole Foods Market’s South region president, called West Ashley a great market with a lot of opportunity.

“The Charleston community has been very receptive to us,” Gaye said in a news release. “There is a lot of interest in bringing local, healthy food options, and we are excited to be adding to our roster of stores in the area.”

In July, Whole Foods announced that it had signed new store leases, averaging 48,000 square feet each, in Charleston as well as Akron, Ohio, Exton, Pa., and Kirkland, Wash. But the company did not specify where in Charleston the store would be located.

Whole Foods currently has a store at 923 Houston Northcutt Blvd. in Mount Pleasant, as well as stores in Columbia and Greenville and on Hilton Head Island.

Whole Foods’ total sales increased 3% to a record $4.8 billion during the company’s first quarter, which ended Jan. 17, according to a news release (.pdf). Earnings totaled about $399 million, or 8.3% of sales.

“We improved our cost structure, stepped up our value efforts and are excited to announce today the national launch of digital coupons within our mobile app,” Whole Foods Market co-CEO Walter Robb said in the Feb. 10 earnings release. “We believe we will deliver strong returns to shareholders over the long term as we improve our price perception, better communicate our higher quality standards and differentiation and continue to fundamentally evolve our business.”

During the first quarter, the company opened three new stores. Already in the second quarter, two new stores have opened and six more are expected. Whole Foods Market currently has 85,000 employees and operates 436 stores in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.

Reach staff writer Ashley Heffernan at 843-849-3144 or @AshleyBHeff on Twitter.

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