US - For chain, a natural evolution
- For chain, a natural evolution
Bread & Circus, a local natural-food chain that celebrates tofu, organic
produce, and free-range prices, is dropping its name and adopting the
identity of the Texas company that bought it in 1992. Within the next 10
days, signs will be changed, and 12 Bread & Circus stores in Massachusetts
will be known as Whole Foods Markets.
With $2.7 billion in 2002 sales and about 140 stores from coast to coast,
Whole Foods Market Inc. has the critical mass to do national advertising
in magazines such as Shape and Gourmet. To get the most from its ad
dollars at a time when conventional supermarkets are putting more emphasis
on natural and organic foods, Whole Foods looks to do business under one
A decade ago, Bread & Circus did little advertising. Only a fraction of
the population bought natural and organic foods then. If a consumer
shopped at Bread & Circus, ''you were labeled as some kind of food nut,''
said former co-owner Anthony Harnett.
Natural foods have since moved toward the mainstream, their popularity
fueled by aging baby boomers and consumers worried about cholesterol and
mad cow disease. Compared with sluggish growth for conventional groceries,
sales for natural and organic foods grow by 12 to 14 percent a year, said
Scott Van Winkle, an analyst for the Boston-based investment bank Adams,
Harkness & Hill. Natural and organic foods, he said, can cost 20 to 30
percent more than conventional items.