Could merger close Idaho stores? Albertsons, Kroger plan to sell hundreds of locations - East Idaho News
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Could merger close Idaho stores? Albertsons, Kroger plan to sell hundreds of locations

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BOISE (Idaho Statesman) — Albertsons and Kroger intend to sell over 400 stores to C&S Wholesale Grocers to appease federal regulators as part of the companies’ plan to merge, according to reports from Reuters and Bloomberg on Thursday. The sale would bring the two grocery giants nearly $2 billion.

C&S Wholesale Grocers is a private wholesale grocery supply company based in New Hampshire. It operates about two dozen Grand Union and Piggly Wiggly supermarkets, mostly on the East Coast.

The stores Albertsons and Kroger plan to divest are located on the Pacific Coast and in Mountain states, as well as in Texas, Illinois and other places, Reuters reported. But nothing more than that is known. A Kroger spokesperson did not return calls and emails from the Idaho Statesman seeking details, and Boise-based Albertsons declined to comment. But the deal with C&S Wholesale Grocers isn’t a total surprise.

Albertsons and Kroger said in October when they announced their $24.6 billion pact that they could spin off between 100 and 375 stores into a new company to help their merger pass an antitrust review by the Federal Trade Commission amid concerns of excessive market concentration.

Albertsons and Kroger have stores under their banners in the same city in multiple states, including in Idaho and Boise. Fred Meyer is part of the Kroger family. The companies have not disclosed what stores might be sold, but a national retail analyst previously told the Idaho Statesman most are likely to be Albertsons locations.

The analyst said divestitures would be less likely in Boise, where Walmart, Winco, Costco and other grocery retailers have expanded aggressively, and where the market concentration of Albertsons and Fred Meyer stores might not be enough to worry regulators.

If Albertsons and Kroger succeed in merging, the combined company would be led by Rodney McMullen, the Kroger chairman and CEO. McMullen said at a congressional hearing in November that no stores, distribution centers or manufacturing facilities would close, and no “front-line” workers would be laid off, if the massive deal receives FTC approval. It could mean some job losses in accounting and other support or service jobs to avoid duplication, he said.

Albertsons is Idaho’s largest company and a Boise icon, with 290,000 employees nationwide and more than 5,000 employees in Idaho, according to previous Statesman reporting. Founded in 1939 by Joe Albertson, it is the second-largest U.S. supermarket and operates chains under Safeway, Haggen, Jewel-Osco and more than a dozen other brands. It has more than 2,200 stores.

Business editor David Staats contributed to this story.