Healthfood supermarket to use F-H for UK launch

US organic and natural food supermarket chain Whole Foods Market has hired Fleishman-Hillard to handle PR ahead of its UK launch next spring.

F-H has been briefed to manage press and publicity for the green supermarket - dubbed the ‘Wal-Mart of wheatgerm' - in the run-up to the opening of its first UK outlet. The three-storey former Barkers department store will be on London's Kensington High Street.

‘Whole Foods Market's entry into the UK is predicted to be one of the biggest retail stories of 2007,' said F-H consumer team director Louisa Jenkins, who heads the account.

The Whole Foods Market phenomenon first made UK headlines two years ago when John Mackay, founder of the firm, bought Fresh & Wild, the London-based organic food chain beloved by celebrities such as Gwyneth Paltrow and Kate Moss.

But its move into the UK market has been fraught with complications.

The organic-only retailer has encountered trouble securing enough British organic suppliers, and Tesco recently launched an own-label range of nuts and pulses called Wholefoods, which will prevent the American retailer from using its own-label moniker in the UK.

Last year, Whole Foods Market recorded more than £2bn in sales across its 180 US stores. The account was awarded to F-H after a competitive three-way pitch, and is handled by the agency's consumer division.

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