Grocery giants Kroger and Albertsons announced on Monday their decision to delay the closure of their proposed $24.6 billion merger until the first half of Kroger’s fiscal year 2024, a shift from the originally anticipated early 2024 timeline.
The merger, initially disclosed in October 2022, has faced considerable opposition from U.S. lawmakers and triggered an investigation by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over antitrust concerns. The primary apprehension revolves around fears that the merger could result in elevated prices for consumers, store closures, and a significant loss of jobs within the industry.
“In light of our continuing dialogue with the regulators, we are updating our anticipated closure timeline,” stated the companies in a joint statement. The first half of Kroger’s fiscal year for 2023 concluded on August 12, 2023.
To address concerns and demonstrate their commitment to consumers, Kroger declared plans to invest $500 million in lowering prices and an additional $1.3 billion to enhance the overall customer experience.
Both companies emphasized their ongoing engagement with the Federal Trade Commission and individual state attorneys general regarding the proposed merger and accompanying divestiture plan. Kroger, as the largest grocer in the United States by revenue, has proposed divesting over 400 stores and eight distribution centers to C&S Wholesale Grocers. In a bid to gain regulatory approval, the company acknowledged the potential need to shed an additional 237 stores, as disclosed last year.
The delay in the merger’s closure provides the companies with an extended timeframe to address regulatory concerns and implement strategies to alleviate potential negative impacts on consumers and industry workers. Kroger and Albertsons maintain their commitment to working collaboratively with regulatory authorities to ensure a smooth and compliant merger process.
As the grocery industry undergoes transformative changes, the fate of the Kroger-Albertsons merger will be closely monitored by stakeholders, including consumers, industry experts, and policymakers. The decision to adjust the timeline reflects the complexities involved in navigating regulatory scrutiny and underscores the significance of addressing antitrust concerns in the ever-evolving landscape of the grocery market.