Stew Leonard Says Amazon Is Rival After Whole Foods Acquisition

Amazon purchasing Whole Foods is sending shockwaves through both the retail and food store industries.

In Connecticut, one person who’s been watching the developments closely is Stew Leonard Jr., the president and CEO of Stew Leonard’s Stores since 1987.

"When you think of Amazon you think of technology and delivery quickly, so I think they’re going to try and bring that to the food industry," Leonard said during an interview at the store in Norwalk.

Leonard said his company has been looking at new strategies like food delivery and having even more take-away options for younger customers.

"We can’t just be focused on the food store now. There are a lot of the millennials that want things delivered. They want food that maybe they can just come and pick up," Leonard said. 

The grocery store CEO said it took years to develop a strategy inside the stores located in Danbury, Norwalk, Yonkers, Newington and Farmingdale that customers would enjoy. Even though more people are looking for delivery and even more convenience, he said the one thing customers enjoy about his family’s stores is the experience they get as they meander the shelves, aisles and stations.

"People come in here they smell the bread, they see the mozzarella being made, you taste some, you see the coffee being roasted, you go to the butchers and see that big ribeye steak that was in there that the butcher cut. You’re not going to be able to do that over the internet," Leonard said. 

Leonard has even visited the Whole Foods headquarters in Austin, Texas, and said he has respect and admiration for the company and its mission.

He’s always viewed Whole Foods as a competitor and said Amazon is a rival, too, with its entry into the grocery business.

“I view as a competitor to anyone who has the lights on and sells food,” Leonard said. 

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