Earlier this year, Coca-Cola Chairman and CEO Muhtar Kent took his friend Walter Robb to visit an agora in Greece.
An agora is basically a marketplace that, historically, served as a center for society. Robb, co-CEO of Whole Foods, loved the idea of a place of business playing such a key role in a community.
“Our job as retailers is to try to create an experience that people want to come to,” Robb said.
Kent and Robb have been friends for years, dating back to a sales call Kent made to Whole Foods headquarters in Austin, Texas. Today, Whole Foods is an important venue for many beverages in Coca-Cola’s growing portfolio.
Robb, who visited Coca-Cola headquarters last week, said the retail environment is changing rapidly. Consumers shop in the store, of course, but they also get deliveries at home or order in advance for quick pickup. Mobile devices increasingly link the entire process together.
“These worlds are going to fuse in a way that’s going to be incredible for the customer,” Robb said.
Business plays an essential role in society, not just in providing jobs but in being part of communities. For Whole Foods, that mission centers around providing quality, healthy food.
Too often, Robb said, the idea of being in business – especially big business – is seen as negative.
“The opportunity for business to change that narrative is through actions,” he said. Helping people flourish, he said, “should be a goal for all our businesses.”
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