Haggen customers and employees will have to wait a little longer to learn the fate of the company.
The auction of the Bellingham-based grocer’s 33 core stores has been rescheduled for 6 a.m. Pacific time Thursday, Feb. 11 and will be held in a law office in New York City, according to a court document filed on Tuesday, Feb. 2. The auction will take place at the offices of Stroock & Stroock & Levan.
The auction was originally scheduled for Friday, Feb. 5. The two-page court document did not offer an explanation as to why the auction date was changed, but previous filings noted that this auction is expected to draw plenty of interest from many bidders because as a group, these stores are profitable and in good locations.
The core stores include all five in Whatcom County.
A hearing to officially approve the sale remains in place for 11 a.m. Pacific time on Wednesday, Feb. 17.
The auction is part of the company’s chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings. The Bellingham-based grocer purchased 146 stores in 2015 from Albertsons and Safeway to help satisfy a Federal Trade Commission requirement of shedding stores prior to the Albertsons-Safeway merger.
The impending auction does not necessarily mean the end of the Haggen store name. An investor or buyer could come in and purchase the stores with the intention of keeping the brand, which is well-known in the Pacific Northwest. It is also possible that the Comvest Group, the Florida private investment firm that became the major stakeholder in the company in 2011, could enter the auction and be the high bidder.
It’s also possible that a different grocer could be the high bidder and convert the stores to its brand, marking the end of the Haggen era.