(CTN News) – A group of six Democrat U.S. lawmakers have written a letter to the Kroger Federal Trade Commission (FTC) expressing their opposition to the proposed acquisition of Albertsons, a grocery chain operator, by Kroger.
The lawmakers, including Senators Elizabeth Warren, Mazie Hirono, Bernie Sanders, and Cory Booker, as well as representatives Summer Lee and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, argue that Kroger’s plan to divest 413 stores to C&S Wholesale Grocers would not adequately address the potential negative impacts on consumers, workers, and the grocery industry.
They highlight the concern that divestitures often fail to maintain competitive conditions as companies have a vested interest in ensuring that spun-off businesses do not thrive. The merger is expected to be completed by early 2024, pending the FTC’s antitrust review.
C&S, which received financial support from SoftBank Group Corp for its agreement with Kroger, primarily functions as a supplier rather than a grocery store operator. Currently, it operates approximately twenty-four stores under the Grand Union and Piggly Wiggly brands.
According to a statement from a Kroger spokesperson,
The merger between Kroger and Albertsons will bring about several benefits for workers, including a significant increase in wages, expanded benefits, job security in the long term, and a strong unionized workforce.
Additionally, the merger will result in lower prices and a wider selection of fresh food choices for customers, along with increased investments in communities.
Various lawmakers, such as congressmen Greg Landsman, Brian Fitzpatrick, and Josh Gottheimer, have expressed their support for the deal by sending letters to the FTC.
In a statement, a representative for Albertsons stated that the merger with Kroger will foster competition, lead to lower prices, safeguard union jobs, and enhance the overall shopping experience for customers.
Albertsons argued that if the deal is blocked, the only beneficiaries would be Amazon, Walmart, and other large non-union retailers.
On the other hand, a combined Kroger and Albertsons would enable neighborhood supermarkets to better compete against these larger retailers.
The FTC chose not to provide any comments on the matter.
Kroger has assured that no stores, distribution centers, manufacturing facilities, or frontline associates will be closed or laid off as a result of the merger.