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Denver Court Sets August Date for Kroger-Albertsons Merger Showdown

 |  March 28, 2024

In a legal showdown set to commence on August 12, The Kroger Co. and Albertsons Cos. brace for a pivotal hearing as Colorado’s Attorney General, Phil Weiser, fervently pushes to derail their merger plans. The Denver District Court, under the purview of Judge Andrew Luxen, will serve as the battleground for arguments surrounding the contentious merger that has stirred concerns of market consolidation and its repercussions on consumers, workers, and suppliers across the state.

The lawsuit, initiated by Weiser in February after a comprehensive year-long investigation, seeks to thwart the proposed merger between the two grocery giants. Citing the elimination of direct competition and the consolidation of an already concentrated market as primary concerns, Weiser underscores the potential adverse effects on Colorado’s retail landscape.

The Colorado Attorney General’s office has echoed the sentiments of worried consumers, articulating fears of store closures, price hikes, job losses, diminished customer service, and weakened supply chains resulting from the merger. Weiser’s stance has solidified after extensive engagement with communities across the state, hosting 19 town halls to gauge public sentiment on the matter.

Related: Kroger-Albertsons Merger Could Give Walmart Shoppers A Low-Cost Grocery Alternative

Weiser’s reservations extend to the proposed divestiture plan put forth by Kroger and Albertsons, which involves entrusting a significant portion of their operations to C&S Wholesale Grocers. The Attorney General deems this proposal inadequate in addressing the anticompetitive ramifications of the merger. Central to Weiser’s argument is the contention that C&S lacks the requisite retail grocery experience to effectively compete post-merger, raising doubts about its ability to fill the void left by divested assets. Furthermore, concerns have been raised regarding the transitional agreement, which ostensibly tethers C&S to Kroger for up to two years, potentially stifling competition between the merging entities.

Kroger, boasting over 140 King Soopers and City Market stores, and Albertsons, with a footprint of 100-plus Safeway and Albertsons outlets in Colorado, find themselves at the heart of this legal tussle. The outcome of the forthcoming court proceedings could significantly reshape the grocery landscape in the state, with ramifications reverberating beyond its borders.

Source: Progressive Grocer