Whole Foods to open 40 new stores

Whole Foods (NASDAQ:WFM) executives were "pleased" with the quarterly results, which reflected $3.3 billion in sales, a 9 percent increase from the prior year. In addition, the company opened a record 13 new stores in 2014 and expanded into seven new markets. The expansion will continue into fiscal 2015, with an expected 38 to 42 new stores.

"The last few months have been an incredibly exciting and rewarding time for our company as we opened a record number of new stores and launched several strategic initiatives, expanding choices for our customers and reinforcing our values as America's Healthiest Grocery Store," said John Mackey, co-founder and co-CEO of Whole Foods. "Collectively, our efforts have led to extremely high team member morale, heightened brand visibility and positive sales momentum."

Walter Robb, co-CEO of Whole Foods, noted that natural and organic products are increasingly available to shoppers. He added that Whole Foods holds their product offerings to a higher standard that includes "unparalleled quality," which is why the company attracts a broad base of loyal customers.

Looking at the fiscal year as a whole, the retailer increased total sales by 10 percent to reach $14.2 billion. Comparable store sales grew 4.3 percent.

The company currently has 401 stores and is expecting to get to 500 by fiscal 2017. Whole Foods opened 13 new stores in the fourth quarter and 38 over the course of the year.

In early September, the natural and organic food retailer partnered with Instacart to offer one-hour delivery in 15 major U.S. cities. "Initial customer response has been overwhelmingly positive, with orders 2.5 times our average basket size," said Mackey. Whole Foods also piloted a loyalty program, which has since expanded to 11 stores. "We are very pleased with the high percentage of active customers registering for the program."

What are plans for the coming year? "We will be expanding into six new markets, such as Ottawa, Canada, while invigorating our brand with new flagships in some of our older markets including Houston, Boston and New York City," Mackey said.

For more:
-See this Whole Foods press release
-See this Seeking Alpha transcript

Related stories:
Whole Foods latest retailer to stop accepting checks
Sprouts beats Whole Foods in organic price wars
Whole Foods looks to streamline business processes, increase efficiency
Albertsons finalizes $9 billion Safeway purchase
Food, fashion and furniture retailers to win big this July 4th