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Kroger identifies 35 Illinois Mariano's, Jewel locations to be sold off pending megamerger approval

Talia Soglin, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Business News

Grocery giants Kroger and Albertsons announced on Tuesday a list of 35 Illinois stores, most of them Mariano’s, that they plan to sell off in hopes of securing federal approval for their planned megamerger. Eight of the stores slated for sale are in Chicago.

If Kroger and Albertsons — which first announced plans to merge in 2022 — secure approval for the deal, the store locations listed would be sold to C&S Wholesale Grocers for $2.9 billion. Most Kroger-owned Mariano’s would be divested under the plan, which calls for selling 31 of the company’s 44 stores. Kroger has also said it would sell the Mariano’s brand name to C&S.

Just four of the planned divestitures are Albertsons-owned Jewel-Osco locations.

In an initial divestiture plan announced in September, the companies said they planned to sell off more than 400 grocery stores nationwide, including 14 in Illinois.

Facing federal scrutiny over their planned $24.6 billion megamerger, the companies upped the number of planned divestitures to a total of 579 in April with 35 planned divestitures in Illinois, though they did not specify at the time exactly where those stores would be located.

It’s still not clear if the plan will satisfy federal regulators. The Federal Trade Commission sued to block the merger in February, saying it could lead to higher prices for consumers and lower wages for workers. A trial in that case, which was joined by several states including Illinois, is scheduled to begin Aug. 26.

The merger has also faced scrutiny from labor unions and elected officials. When Illinois joined the FTC lawsuit filed in February, Attorney General Kwame Raoul said the planned merger would “greatly reduce competition in the grocery market while leading to fewer choices for consumers and increased grocery prices at a time many families are struggling to keep up.”

 

On Tuesday, a coalition of United Food & Commercial Workers local unions released a joint statement pledging to continue their opposition to the merger, saying it would harm workers, shoppers and suppliers.

“Today’s announcement changes nothing,” the statement from the coalition of locals, all of which are located outside of Illinois, read. “The merger is not a done deal, far from it.”

In a news release in April, Kroger CEO Rodney McMullen said all frontline grocery workers would keep their jobs and that their existing collective bargaining agreements would be honored.

“Our proposed merger with Albertsons will bring lower prices and more choices to more customers and secure the long-term future of unionized grocery jobs,” McMullen said in a statement at the time.

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