Kroger announced Friday that it plans to purchase Albertsons for nearly $25 billion in a merger that would combine the two largest supermarket chains in the U.S., CNN reports.
Kroger is the largest supermarket operator in the country, counting chains Ralphs, Harris Teeter, Fred Meyer, and King Soopers in its over 2,700 stores. Albertsons is the second largest grocery operator with nearly 2,300 stores, including Safeway and Vons, NPR reports. The companies have a combined 710,000 workers who are mostly unionized and make more than $200 billion in sales, per CNN.
In the announcement, Kroger CEO Rodney McMullen said the merger "accelerates our position as a more compelling alternative to larger and non-union competitors," per CNN.
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If the deal is successful, it would be one of the largest mergers in U.S. history, and the company would become the third-largest retail chain in America based on sales. The move comes amidst rising grocery prices, which increased 13 percent last month compared to a year ago. Kroger said it would spend half a billion dollars in cost savings from the merger to invest in lowering grocery prices for consumers, CNN reports.
Analysts predict a deal would take a long time to be approved and would also face intense scrutiny from regulators and critics. Antitrust regulators in the Biden administration have pushed the government to change its approach to mergers, lobbying against megadeals that impact competition and consumer prices, NPR reports.
The American Economic Liberties Project, an anti-monopoly organization, said the "merger would be disastrous for market competition, small businesses, and especially – consumers' pockets," per CNN.
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