The road to unite Kroger and Albertsons has not been a swift one, and as a result, the companies, alongside C&S Wholesale Grocers, have updated the outlook of the deal’s closure with potential delays in sight.
“In light of our continuing dialogue with the regulators, we are updating our anticipated closure timeline. We currently anticipate that the closing will occur in the first half of Kroger's fiscal 2024. While this is longer than we originally thought, we knew it was a possibility, and our merger agreement and divestiture plan accounted for such potential timing,” the companies said together in a joint statement released by Kroger. “We remain committed to closing the transaction and providing the meaningful and measurable benefits that we promised when we originally announced the transaction."
Though Kroger stated its combination with Albertsons will mean lower prices and more choices for more customers, CNN reports a lawsuit has been filed by Washington State, with Attorney General, Bob Ferguson, arguing to block the move. As the report suggests, concerns such as limited grocery options are raised by the plaintiff.
"We remain in active and ongoing dialogue with the Federal Trade Commission and individual state Attorneys General regarding our proposed merger and divestiture plan,” the statement from Kroger continued. “We believe our merger with Albertsons and the comprehensive divestiture to C&S will result in the best outcomes for customers, associates, and our communities.”
Amid its assurances to satisfy concerns, Kroger shared it is committed to protecting good-paying union jobs, with no store closures or frontline associates laid off as a result of the merger; will invest $500 million to reduce prices beginning day one, as well as an incremental $1.3 billion to enhance the customer experience; and will invest an incremental $1 billion to raise wages and comprehensive benefits for all associates post-close.
As the identified divestiture buyer, C&S Wholesale Grocers has also committed to recognizing the union workforce, maintaining all collective bargaining agreements, retaining frontline employees, and further investing for growth.
The merger, the banners concluded, will also result in more opportunities to invest in communities across the United States, as Kroger continues its mission to create neighborhoods free from hunger and food waste.
Deli Market News will continue to report on the story as it develops further.