Key Words: Whole Foods CEO says he’s ‘not afraid to get fired’ over clashes with Amazon

The relationship between Amazon.com Inc. and Whole Foods has been rocky since the tech giant acquired the grocery chain a year ago, Whole Foods Chief Executive John Mackey told employees this week, but he said he’s held his ground and is happy with how it turned out.

Mackey spoke at a company-wide meeting Tuesday, and Business Insider acquired an audio recording of his comments.

“I ultimately am not afraid to get fired so — not that I think they are going to fire me — but I’m not afraid of it, so that gives me a position of strength to speak truth to power when it’s necessary to do so, and I’ve done it many, many times.”

John Mackey, Whole Foods CEO

While Mackey said “it’s been an incredible year” and pointed to better-than-expected sales, he acknowledged there have been challenges.

“I’m sure that Amazon has probably gotten more disagreement from me than any other single person and possibly more than everyone else combined,” he said.

Mackey did not elaborate on the disagreements, but said “Amazon has listened, and they have been very respectful, and they have backed off.”

“I’m overall pleased with where we’re at,” he said. “Does that mean I love absolutely everything about Amazon? No. I don’t. I don’t love absolutely everything about my wife either, but on balance, I love like 98%. That’s a pretty good ratio based on my previous relationships.”

Amazon announced its $13.7 deal to buy Whole Foods on June 16, 2017. Amazon has since instituted a number of changes, and in March the Wall Street Journal reported more than a dozen top executives and managers had left Whole Foods, with some complaining about a clash of corporate cultures.

Amazon shares AMZN, +0.36%   are up 46% this year, and up 74% in the past 12 months, compared to the S&P 500’s SPX, -0.40%   gains of nearly 4% and 14%, respectively

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