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Bellingham, Washington-based Haggen Inc. said yesterday that it has begun the process of acquiring "146 stores as part of the divestment process brought about by the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) review of the Albertsons LLC and Safeway merger. The FTC approved the divesture on Tuesday, January 27, 2015, and the merger of Albertsons and Safeway Inc. was completed on Friday, January 30, 2015."

Haggen began taking ownership of the stores this morning. The agreement mandates that it must take ownership within 120 days.

"With this acquisition," the company said, "Haggen will expand from 18 stores with 16 pharmacies to 164 stores with 106 pharmacies; from 2,000 employees to more than 10,000 employees; and from a Pacific Northwest company with locations in Oregon and Washington to a major regional grocery chain with locations in Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada and Arizona."

The company said it "will convert the stores moving from north to south, with a few exceptions. The first conversion begins on Thursday at the former Albertsons located at 19881 SR 2, Monroe, WA. Soon after, another 18 stores in Washington will be converted during February and March, with the final seven Washington stores scheduled in June. The 83 stores in California will be converted from March to May. The 20 Oregon stores will transfer to the Haggen brand throughout the months of March, April and May. The Nevada and Arizona stores will be the last to convert in the late spring. Each week, between one and 12 stores will be converted ... The amount of time it will take for a conversion will vary store by store. Some stores can be converted within two days after the change of ownership, while others will take longer. Both interior and exterior signage will change at all locations."

Bill Shaner, who will serve as CEO of Haggen's Pacific Southwest division, has pledged that “Haggen is still small enough to be very nimble and responsive to each store's customers. What you find in a Bellingham store will differ from what you’ll find in a store in San Diego. Being locally focused is a core value of Haggen."
KC's View:
As I've said before, this strikes me as an enormous undertaking in which everything has to go right for it to work. They seem to have a plan, and they certainly have smart people at the helm ... but they're reinventing these stores in some pretty tough competitive markets, and will have to give consumers a great first impression of they are going to disrupt existing shopping patterns. Nimble is good. Being extraordinary is better ... and probably a requisite for success.