On Thursday, the Federal Trade Commission finally approved Amazon.com’s (AMZN - Free Report) acquisition of organic grocer Whole Foods Market , ending an investigation to determine if the grocery deal would unfairly affect market competition.
“Based on our investigation, we have decided not to pursue this matter further,” the Commission said in a statement late Wednesday. “Of course, the FTC always has the ability to investigate anticompetitive conduct should such action be warranted.”
The FTC’s announcement came soon after Whole Foods’ shareholders approved the $13.7 billion deal in a meeting yesterday.
With Whole Foods, Amazon will gain a much-needed footprint in the grocery business, securing a loyal customer base and a large number of stores (and future distribution centers); right now, the upscale supermarket chain as about 470 stores in North American and the United Kingdom.
In particular, the U.S. grocery market has only grown more crowded over the years, though leaders like Kroger (KR - Free Report) , Walmart (WMT - Free Report) , Publix , and even Costco (COST - Free Report) still dominate the space. But as European giants like Aldi and Lidl—and Aldi’s popular subsidiary Trader Joe’s—grow their stateside presence, the supermarket industry will only continue to get more packed (read more: Why Aldi is the Grocery Store of the Future).
Though Amazon is undoubtedly the e-commerce king, it has a long way to go to take that title in the grocery business. Buying Whole Foods, however, is a good place to start.
The merger is expected to close during the second half of this year. When customers will be able to utilize Alexa in their local Whole Foods store, that’s still to be determined.
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