Kroger-Albertsons Deal Could Bring this Supermarket Giant to Arizona

Article originally posted on AZ Central on April 24, 2024

If Kroger’s proposed $24.6 billion acquisition of Albertsons goes through, the transaction will create a big new player in Arizona’s supermarket business.

C&S Wholesale Grocers, with no current supermarket operations in the state, overnight could emerge as a rival almost as large here as Kroger, which owns Fry’s Food Stores and Smith’s locations.

Kroger currently operates 131 Arizona supermarkets and would add an expected 34 Albertsons and Safeway locations if regulators, including the Federal Trade Commission, give a green light to the deal. C&S stands to take over the other 101 Albertsons or Safeways locations in the state.

The fate of specific locations in Arizona and elsewhere hasn’t been announced.

This updated announcement, made on April 22, would mark a significant increase in C&S’ presence in Arizona, and aims to address criticisms made by the FTC and others. Previously, the company was slated to buy 24 Albertsons or Safeway supermarkets in Arizona among 413 properties nationally. Under the latest proposal, C&S would acquire a total of 579 Albertsons or Safeway locations, including the 101 Arizona stores.

Who exactly is C&S Wholesale Grocers?

C&S, which is based in Keene, New Hampshire, operates more than 160 franchise and company-owned stores, said Lauren La Bruno, a company vice president, in an email to The Arizona Republic. That’s in addition to supplying more than 7,500 independent supermarkets, retail chain stores and military bases with products and services. The company’s stores include those under the Piggly Wiggly and Grand Union brands.

“C&S is deeply committed to our transformation strategy, which includes the expansion of our retail footprint,” she wrote. “The purchase of these stores will enable C&S to be one of the leading grocery retailers in the United States.”

The company has an experienced management team with an extensive background in food retail and distribution, she added, along with the financial strength to continue investing in employees and the business.

“C&S also brings experience with the merger process, having been an FTC-approved buyer in prior grocery transactions with a strong track record of successfully transitioning union employees and their associated collective-bargaining agreements,” La Bruno added.

How big is C&S?

Progressive Grocer, an industry trade publication, ranks C&S 17th on its latest list of 100 top food retailers with $34.7 billion in annual revenue. Kroger is fourth at $148.3 billion and Albertsons/Safeway is ninth at $77.6 billion.