Seeking to divest stores for FTC approval, Kroger and Albertsons are reportedly close to a deal with C&S Wholesale Grocers.
The Kroger Co. and Albertsons Cos. may have a buyer for stores that they want to shed as their planned merger date gets closer. According to a report from Bloomberg News, the grocers are in negotiations with C&S Wholesale Grocers to pick up an as-yet-undetermined number of locations.
Earlier, Kroger and Albertsons shared that they hoped to divest between 250 and 300 stores in markets where they both have a presence. One possible solution was an Albertsons’ subsidiary, SpinCo, that would operate stores divested as part of the regulatory approval process.
In a July interview with the Denver Post, Kroger Chairman and CEO Rodney McMullen affirmed that discussions with potential buyers were ongoing. "We’re in the middle of talking to several different people in terms of interest in buying the stores that will be divested. The stores that we divest, we will sell them to strong, viable competitors that are committed to supporting the union,” he said at the time.
Citing a source with alleged knowledge of the more recent talks, Bloomberg reported that C&S, with support from SoftBank Group, is close to a deal to acquire at least some of those overlapping stores. An announcement could come as early as this week, the source added.
The reports come a month after C&S announced that COO Eric Winn will succeed retiring CEO Bob Palmer on Oct. 2. Winn currently leads operations, transportation, customer development and, notably, expansion for C&S.
The companies involved have not responded to Progressive Grocer's request for comment at press time.
Founded in 1918 as a supplier to independent grocery stores, Keene, N.H.-based C&S services customers of all sizes, supplying more than 7,500 independent supermarkets, chain stores, military bases and institutions with 100,000-plus products, in addition to operating corporate stores. The company is No. 17 on The PG 100.