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North Coast Current

News online for Encinitas, Calif.

North Coast Current

News online for Encinitas, Calif.

North Coast Current

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Carlsbad, Del Mar, Carmel Valley Vons and Pavilions stores on proposed sale list in Kroger merger

This Vons in Carlsbad, at 6951 El Camino Real, is among four coastal North San Diego County Albertsons-owned stores set to be sold to C&S Wholesale Grocers if Albertsons Cos. sale to Kroger goes through. Two Vons in Carlsbad, one Vons in Del Mar and one Pavilions in Carmel Valley would go to C&S, in addition to a Vons location in Rancho Bernardo. (Newmark Principal photo)

Vons and Pavilions grocery stores in Carlsbad, Del Mar and Carmel Valley would likely be sold to the parent company of Piggly Wiggly under an updated merger proposal between Kroger and Albertsons announced Tuesday, July 9.

Kroger’s planned $24.6 billion acquisition of  Albertsons Cos. was first announced in 2022. By February of this year, the Federal Trade Commission, California Attorney General Rob Bonta and other states’ attorneys general filed lawsuits to stop the merger, alleging that the nation’s two largest supermarket chains operating as one would significantly reduce competition and lead to higher food prices.

In a video announcement Tuesday, Kroger and Albertsons executives announced an agreement with C&S Wholesale Grocers to divest 579 stores as well as six distribution centers and a dairy delivery plant. C&S runs Piggly Wiggly and Grand Union supermarkets. In 2023, C&S had announced that it would purchase 413 stores, eight distribution centers and two offices.

According to a map included with Tuesday’s updated merger plans, a vast majority of the divested stores are in the West, with the largest amount of stores in California (63) and Washington (124). The graphic also states that C&S would have exclusive licensing rights to the Albertsons brand name in California, Arizona, Colorado and Wyoming.

A list of proposed divested stores includes 11 locations in San Diego County. In coastal North County, the stores are:

✔ Vons: 6951 El Camino Real, Carlsbad
✔ Vons: 3439 Via Montebello, Carlsbad
✔ Vons: 2606 Del Mar Heights Road, Del Mar`
✔ Pavilions: 3850 Valley Centre Drive, Carmel Valley

The Rancho Bernardo Vons at 11986 Bernardo Plaza Drive is also on the list. All of the San Diego stores listed are Vons, Pavilions and Albertsons locations. There are no Kroger-owned Ralphs stores on the list.

Although C&S would have licensing rights to the Albertsons brand name, it was not stated whether C&S would rebrand any stores as Piggly Wiggly or Grand Union.

“This is a significant step toward completion of our proposed merger,” Rodney McMullen, chairman and CEO of Kroger, said in the video. “To be clear, divested stores are not closed stores. C&S is committed to operating these stores as they are today.”

Vivek Sankaran, CEO of Albertsons Companies, said the proposed divestiture would make the grocery industry more competitive by giving C&S an opportunity for expansion.

“Their deep industry knowledge and experience gives us great confidence in their ability to become even fiercer competitors moving forward,” Sankaran said in the video. “I’ve always been impressed by their company’s leadership and commitment to taking care of their associates.”

C&S would continue to honor current collective bargaining agreements, McMullen said in the video. There would also be no layoffs as part of the agreement.

McMullen said that the companies remain confident that the merger can be achieved this year.

“Today’s announcement helps fulfill all the commitments Albertsons and Kroger made since we announced our merger,” he said.

The FTC, however, stated that the merger would increase grocery prices and jeopardize workers’ employment stability.

“This supermarket mega merger comes as American consumers have seen the cost of groceries rise steadily over the past few years,” Henry Liu, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Competition, said in a February news release announcing the lawsuit. “Kroger’s acquisition of Albertsons would lead to additional grocery price hikes for everyday goods, further exacerbating the financial strain consumers across the country face today. Essential grocery store workers would also suffer under this deal, facing the threat of their wages dwindling, benefits diminishing, and their working conditions deteriorating.”

Bonta echoed those concerns in his announcement of California’s lawsuit back in February.

“This megamerger is bad for workers, for agricultural producers, and for California communities,” he said in a news release at the time. “In some markets in Southern California, Kroger-Albertsons is expected to be the only one-stop grocery option. … This merger will leave Californians with limited choices over where to shop — and for workers in this industry, where to work. As many families continue to feel the burden of inflation, fighting corporate consolidation that threatens to increase prices and reduce service is more important than ever.”