Rodney McMullen, chairman and CEO of The Kroger Co.
The CEOs are speaking out. Vivek Sankaran of Albertsons Cos., Inc. and Rodney McMullen of The Kroger Co. shared a jointly-penned opinion letter to the editors of the Cincinnati Enquirer and Cincinnati.com.
In the April 28 message, the leaders sought to dispel misconceptions around the proposed merger between their organizations. They emphasized their respective legacies of serving customers while also pointing to the marketplace changes that led to their decision to pool their businesses.
“Our collective grocery retail experience teaches us that customers’ needs are always changing. It’s our responsibility to anticipate those changes and provide what’s most important to them,” the leaders wrote.
The piece called out three specific myths surrounding the pending merger. First, they sought to allay concerns about store closings, noting that Kroger has committed to “zero store closures” as a result of the business move. "As a part of the regulatory process, we anticipate divesting − or selling − some stores. These stores will remain open. We are working closely with the regulators and are committed to finding reliable operators for the divested stores,” Sankaran and McMullen wrote.
Vivek Sankaran, CEO of Albertsons Cos.
The CEOs also tamped down rumors about job losses, reiterating the point that “no frontline workers will be laid off as a result of the merger.” The letter pointed out that the average hourly wage at Kroger is $23.50 and highlighted the education assistance available to its associates.
Finally, the executives addressed perceptions around price. “We have seen claims we will lower prices by squeezing farmers. This is simply not accurate. Farmers are the backbone of our business and help put fresh, affordable food on families’ tables daily,” Sankaran and McMullen declared, adding that the combined organization aims to offer lower prices and more choices for shoppers.
They concluded on a positive note, expressing optimism about opportunities that the joint operation will offer to associates, consumers and communities.