Kroger-Albertsons merger could lead to sale of 91 stores across Colorado

Kroger and Albertsons would unload 91 grocery stores in Colorado if the companies prevail over lawsuits and regulators’ opposition to a merger of the two large supermarket chains.

The stores on the list of ones that would be sold to C&S Wholesale Grocers are spread across the state, ranging from Alamosa and Cortez to Fraser and Frisco with several in metro Denver. Two Albertsons stores are on the list of those to be sold. The rest are Safeways.

Kroger, which owns King Soopers and City Market stores, and Albertsons, parent company of Safeway, announced the proposed $24.6 billion merger in October 2022. Since then, Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser has filed a lawsuit opposing  the merger on grounds that it would eliminate competition and harm shoppers, workers and suppliers.

In June, a Denver district judge rejected a motion by Kroger and Albertsons Companies to dismiss Weiser’s lawsuit.

The Federal Trade Commission sued in February to block the merger between the grocery giants, saying it would eliminate competition and drive up prices for millions of Americans.

Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed a lawsuit against the merger in January.

Kroger and Albertsons have said merging would better position them to compete against national, nonunion discount grocers such as Walmart and Costco. Kroger has said the merger would generate $1 billion in higher wages, expanded benefits, long-term job security and a strong unionized workforce.

But the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, which opposes the consolidation, believes the grocers released the list of stores Tuesday in an attempt to influence the courts and create the perception that the merger is close to being final. Kim Cordova, president of  UFCW Local 7, which represents workers in Colorado and Wyoming, said the union had requested the list of stores targeted for sale several times but didn’t get it.

“The workers wanted to know. It causes anxiety for our membership, it causes a lot of uncertainty,” Cordova said. “The companies have not been transparent during this whole process.”

Kroger said in an email that from the start, it has committed to sharing information, including the specific list of affected locations and associates.

“We are now at the point in the process where we can begin providing those details. Because we began to inform affected associates, we were able to share the list publicly. We reached out to the local unions at the same time we were notifying associates,” Kroger said in its statement.

Cordova said the union was notified that the Federal Trade Commission will hold an administrative hearing on the merger starting July 31. The FTC didn’t respond to a question about the hearing.

Since announcing the proposed merger, the supermarket chains have increased the number of stores it would sell to C&S Wholesale Grocers. Kroger and Albertsons initially said the plan was to sell about 50 stores in Colorado to the Texas-based company.

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Source:: The Denver Post – Business


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