AG Ferguson files lawsuit to block Kroger-Albertsons merger

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Lake Forest Park Albertson's
Photo by Jerry Pickard

Albertsons owns Safeway and Haggen, while Kroger owns QFC and Fred Meyer

Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed a lawsuit today to block the proposed Kroger-Albertsons grocery merger. Ferguson asserts the proposed merger of the two largest supermarket companies in Washington state will severely limit shopping options for consumers and eliminate vital competition that keeps grocery prices low.
Ferguson also asserts that a proposal by Kroger and Albertsons to mitigate the impacts of their merger, which includes selling off more than 100 stores in Washington, does not change the fact that Kroger would still enjoy a near-monopoly in many markets in the state. 

In addition, the plan to sell the stores to a company that is primarily a wholesale supplier could set up many of the divested supermarkets to fail, endangering Washington jobs and further diminishing choices for Washington shoppers.

“This merger is bad for Washington shoppers and workers,” Ferguson said. “Free enterprise is built on companies competing, and that competition benefits consumers. Shoppers will have fewer choices and less competition, and, without a competitive marketplace, they will pay higher prices at the grocery store. That’s not right, and this lawsuit seeks to stop this harmful merger.”

Ferguson press conference

The lawsuit, filed today in King County Superior Court seeks to block the merger of Kroger and Albertsons nationwide. Ferguson asserts the merger eliminates Kroger’s closest competitor and decreases customer choice by significantly increasing the concentration of stores owned by the same company throughout Washington.

Even company executives have expressed that the merger might be illegal. After rumors of the proposed merger surfaced, a vice president with Albertsons wrote that “you are basically creating a monopoly in grocery with the merger… [it] makes no sense.”

An Albertson’s Human Resources director wrote of the merger: “It’s all about pricing and competition and we all know prices will not go down.”

Kroger and Albertsons are the two largest supermarket chains in Washington and the second and fourth largest supermarket operators in the country. They currently have more than 700,000 employees in nearly 5,000 stores across 49 states. They have combined annual revenue in excess of $200 billion.

Kroger alone has more than 21,000 workers in Washington.

Companies own more than half of Washington supermarkets

More than half of all supermarkets in Washington state are currently owned by either Kroger or Albertsons, and they account for more than 50% of all supermarket sales in the state. 

Albertsons owns Safeway and Haggen, while Kroger owns QFC and Fred Meyer. Collectively, Kroger and Albertsons operate more than 300 supermarkets in Washington, including approximately 194 in the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue metropolitan area.

Read more here


Just My Opinion January 16, 2024 at 10:12 AM  

I was in the Safeway at NE 155th and Aurora last week and half the shelves were empty and stock was being rearranged. Checker told me it was due to upcoming merger with Kroger - I didn't realize it was a done deal! Anything that can stop it has my support. Kroger ruined Fred Meyer and QFC - Safeway and Albertson's is "meh". Isn't the idea of competition central to The American Way?

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