Are More Changes Coming for Tri-Cities Grocery Stores?
If the Costco situation in the Tri-Cities could be considered a drama, then the last near decade for grocery stores in the Tri-Cities has been a full blown saga. It began in 2015 when the two prominent grocery store chains in our area Albertsons and Safeway completed their merger.
Albertsons would buy all outstanding shares in Safeway and combine the operations of the two companies. They would operate 2,230 stores in 34 states and Washington DC. It would impact five grocery stores in our area.
Fast Forward Seven Years
Then in October of 2022 the next round of consolidation was announced. Kroger, the parent company of Fred Meyer Stores, announced their intention to buy Albertsons. Kroger would buy all outstanding shares of Albertsons and the company would operate under Kroger's banner.
Hold on Just a Minute...
Regulatory questions immediately arose around the deal as well as concerns about a potential monopoly. Albertsons operates their namesake stores along with Safeway stores. Kroger operates their namesake stores as well as Fred Meyer, Ralphs, Dillons, Smith’s, King Soopers, Fry’s, QFC, City Market, Owen’s, Jay C, Pay Less, Baker’s, Gerbes, Harris Teeter, Pick ‘n Save, Metro Market, and Mariano’s.
The merger would have seen Kroger operate 4,996 stores, 66 distribution centers, 52 manufacturing plants, 3,972 pharmacies and 2,015 fuel centers. Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson attempt to throw up a road block, but the Washington State Supreme Court wanted no part of it.
So What is the Hold UP and How Does it Impact Tri-Cities?
There is concern the Federal Trade Commission may be hesitant to approve the deal or block it at the behest of some State Attorney Generals. That has led to a proactive approach from the two grocery giants.
Kroger announced a divestiture plan yesterday that could impact the Albertson, Safeway, and Fred Myer brands in our area as well as the QFC brand in other areas of Washington State. Roughly 104 stores will be sold to C&S Wholesale Grocers who operate the century plus old Piggly Wiggly grocery chain.
What we don't know yet is what stores will be sold. That won't happen until the Federal Trade Commission approves all of the moving parts. The four aforementioned brands have 314 stores statewide. This process is far from over, but this announcement makes it closer to reality.
It makes one wonder if Piggly Wiggly will be coming to Tri-Cities in 2025?