Report: Kroger, Albertsons looking to sell stores to grocery company

Grocery giants Kroger and Albertsons – the respective parent companies of King Soopers and Safeway – are reportedly in the midst of negotiating an almost $2 billion deal with C&S Wholesale Grocers and SoftBank Group Corp. to sell hundreds of their stores.

The potential acquisition could impact more than 400 locations, including an unidentified number in “mountain states,” Reuters reported. The would-be purchaser, New Hampshire-based wholesale company C&S Wholesale Grocers, would receive financial support from SoftBank Group Corp., a Japanese holding company.

An announcement about the deal could come “as soon as this week,” with the stores sold for “antitrust reasons,” according to Bloomberg News, which originally reported the story on Tuesday.

Representatives for C&S Wholesale declined to comment on Thursday, while spokespeople for Kroger, Albertsons and SoftBank Group Co. didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The controversial $25 billion proposed merger between Kroger and Albertsons – expected to close in early 2024 – has received criticism from state and federal government officials over the risk of forming a grocery monopoly, which could hurt employees, consumers and competition within the industry.

“We’re in the middle of talking to several different people in terms of interest in buying the stores that will be divested,” Kroger CEO Rodney McMullen told The Denver Post in July. “The stores that we divest, we will sell them to strong, viable competitors that are committed to supporting the union.”

C&S Wholesale runs Grand Union Supermarkets and Piggly Wiggly Supermarkets – unfamiliar names in the Rocky Mountain West. Those stores operate in the Midwest, South and Northeast.

But almost a century ago, Piggly Wiggly maintained a large presence in the Denver market, with dozens of stores, reported. Notably, “the original Piggly Wiggly Grimes locations were absorbed into Safeway by 1938.”

So far, the $25 billion merger proposed between Kroger and Albertsons made public in October has failed to earn the support of Colorado officials. Both State Treasurer Dave Young and Secretary of State Jena Griswold publicly oppose the deal, and have pushed the Federal Trade Commission to stop it.

Attorney General Phil Weiser is actively investigating the merger alongside other states.

The United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7 union, which represents Albertsons, City Market, King Soopers and Safeway grocery workers in Colorado, has rallied against the deal from the start. President Kim Cordova didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

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