Kroger to Open Six Marketplace Stores in Central Ohio

CINCINNATI - Kroger Co., based here, has announced plans to build six Marketplace superstores in Columbus, Ohio this year, according to Business First. The company's Marketplace stores usually carry grocery and pharmacy items along with hard goods such as outdoor living products, electronics, home products, and toys.

The stores could allow Kroger to remain the No. 1 grocer in central Ohio, where Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Meijer Inc., and Giant Eagle Inc. provide strong competition. Kroger's supercenters operate under several banners, among them Fry's Marketplace in Arizona and Smith's Marketplace in Utah. Kroger executives have declined to reveal specific design or site plans relating to the planned Ohio stores.

In anticipation of the planned Marketplace construction, Kroger executives and officials with Local 1059 of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, which represents many local Kroger workers, have agreed to extend the union's contract to workers at the six new stores.

In addition to the Marketplace locations, Kroger intends to build a premium supermarket, FreshFare, in Worthington. The store will be the company's first FreshFare location in Ohio.

In other Kroger news, the company has reached a tentative agreement with the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 876, which covers 8,500 Kroger employees in Michigan, on a three-year contract, according to published reports.

The contract covers employees at 86 stores, the union announced in a statement. A ratification vote is scheduled to take place next week.

The negotiations helped save such benefits as health insurance with no employee co-payments, members' job security, paid time off, pension, and modest wage increases, according to the union.

UFCW Local 876, based in Madison Heights, Mich., represents more than 22,000 workers in eastern and northern Michigan.
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