NINA WU / NWU@STARBULLETIN.COM
Hundreds of applicants showed up for scheduled interviews at the Whole Foods Market Kahala Mall job fair yesterday afternoon. The job fair continues today between 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Whole Foods adding to its ranks
The natural food retailer is looking to hire up to 90 workers
STORY SUMMARY »
Texas-based natural foods chain Whole Foods Market is hiring employees for its Kahala Mall store, slated to open in September.
A job fair was held yesterday and continues today between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. Applicants are encouraged to fill out applications and schedule an interview online, but walk-ins are also welcome.
Whole Foods also says it is planning to move forward with all four stores planned in Hawaii during the next two years.
Following the Kahala store opening in September, the Maui Mall and Ward stores are expected to open in the summer of 2009, and the Kailua store is expected to open in 2010.
At the Kahala job fair yesterday, store team leader Lawrence Hoover interviewed hundreds of applicants for about 90 positions.
Dozens of applicants were offered positions immediately following their interviews.
FULL STORY »
Whole Foods Market
held a job fair for prospective employees at its Kahala Mall store yesterday. The job fair continues at the mall today from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
ISLE WHOLE FOODS MARKET LOCATIONS
New Hawaii stores, with sizes and opening dates.
» Kahala Mall: 28,670 square feet, September
» Ward Village Shops: 67,000 square feet, summer 2009
» Maui Mall Shopping Center: 26,366 square feet, summer 2009
» Kailua: 40,000 square feet, 2010
Source: Whole Foods Market
The store, measuring 28,670 square feet, is slated to open in September.
The Texas-based natural foods retailer is looking to hire between 80 and 90 workers for the store.
Yesterday, dozens were offered jobs on the spot after appearing for in-person interviews at the mall, said store team leader Lawrence M. Hoover.
Three team leaders, or heads of departments, have also been hired for the meat, seafood and bakery sections.
Available positions include chefs, coffee specialists and cashiers and span a half-dozen departments.
Applicants are encouraged to fill out applications online at www.wholefoodsmarket.com/careers and schedule an interview in advance. Most slots were already booked yesterday, but walk-ins are also welcome, said Hoover.
He said he was impressed with the caliber of the applicants, which included former employees of Aloha Airlines.
Entry-level positions at the isle store begin at $11 an hour. Department managers command hourly wages of $20 and up.
Whole Foods does a preliminary interview, and then screens applicants for a job based on customer service orientation, skills and qualifications. Formal interviews can be one-on-one or in a group.
Job offers are contingent on a background check, clearance of I-9 paperwork and Social Security number verification.
Employees also go through a 30- to 90-day orientation period. Co-workers vote on whether or not to add that new hire to their team.
Hoover says Whole Foods looks for people with exceptional customer skills as well as a passion for organic and natural foods.
Despite rumors that Whole Foods may be scaling back its Hawaii plans, vendor relations representative Claire Sullivan said this is not the case.
"All four stores are on target and moving forward," said Sullivan.
A flagship store, measuring 67,000 square feet, is expected to open at the Ward Village Shops site in summer 2009, she said, as is another Whole Foods measuring about 26,000 square feet at Maui Mall in Kahului.
A fourth store, measuring about 40,000 square feet, is expected to open in Kailua in 2010.
However, all opening dates are moving targets, according to Sullivan.
The Ward Whole Foods, for instance, faced numerous delays due to the discovery of native Hawaiian remains at the site last year.
Jan Yokota, vice president of development for General Growth Properties, developer of the Ward Village Shops site anchored by Whole Foods, also said she was unaware of any scalebacks in plans.
"We do have a signed lease with Whole Foods," said Yokota, "and they are scheduled to open next year."
Three native Hawaiian remains were also discovered at the site of a new First Hawaiian Bank in Kailua, which is next door to the planned Whole Foods there. The bank will redesign its branch to leave the remains in place, and is proceeding with construction on schedule.
Kimo Steinwascher, vice president of leasing and development for landowner Kaneohe Ranch Co., said the lease with Whole Foods was also still in place, with design plans under way.
Total sales for Whole Foods increased 28 percent to $1.9 billion in the second quarter. Sales excluding its Wild Oats business increased 16 percent to $1.7 billion.
Whole Foods has more than 270 stores across the U.S. totaling 9.5 million square feet.
The average new store size is about 57,000 square feet, with sales of $604 a square foot. The average pre-opening expense per store is more than $2 million, according to the company's latest financial report.
Four more stores are expected to open in the U.S. in the third quarter, and up to eight in the fourth quarter of this year.