It will take over a natural and organic grocer pioneer with 456 stores, a mecca for young, high-end shoppers, that has been struggling to rein in prices and integrate technology.
Amazon has been looking at shop layouts that could allow traditional in-store purchase, online ordering with on-site pickup, and home delivery, using store warehouse space as a distribution point, Ladd said.
Despite Amazon's reputation for harnessing technology, a prototype store inside its corporate office in Seattle, called Amazon Go, which uses sensors and tech-savvy cameras to detect shoppers' selections and then charge their Amazon accounts, has rolled out more slowly than planned, a person familiar with the matter said.
The deal unfolded after Jeff Bezos, Amazon's chief executive officer, approached Whole Foods CEO John Mackey about a month ago and received an eager response from Mackey, two people familiar with the matter said.
The deal is for $13.4 billion in cash and the remainder in debt.