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Whole Foods ordered to reopen Seattle-area 365 store

Amazon.com Inc.-owned grocery chain Whole Foods Market Inc. was issued a preliminary injunction in Washington state to reopen a store under its 365 banner that it closed in October, The Seattle Times reported Dec. 7.

King County Superior Court Judge Mary Roberts made the order after the owner of the Bellevue Square mall near Seattle, where the store was located, sued Whole Foods for breaking a 20-year lease that was originally signed in July 2015.

Whole Foods launched the 34,000-square-foot location in September 2016 but later said it had failed to meet sales projections, according to Roberts' ruling, which also noted that the lease required Whole Foods to operate the site seven days a week for the first 10 years of the contract.

The company is still paying rent for the location, which its lawyers claim fulfills the lease commitment. However, Roberts ruled that Whole Foods did not have an option to break the agreement if the store turned out to be unprofitable.

Earlier this year, Whole Foods announced plans to open 22 stores under the smaller-sized, lower-priced 365 format, including in Arizona, Florida and New Jersey.