The new owners of 12 former Washington Haggen stores say they expect to reopen the stores again early in the new year.
While Albertsons, which acquired those stores last week in bankruptcy court, hasn’t announced a specific timetable for the startup of the closed stores, Justin Ewing, Albertsons vice president of corporate development, told a Delaware federal bankruptcy judge last week the company wants to get those stores up and running as soon as possible next year.
“We are pleased to be returning to these locations and have the opportunity to create great jobs in these communities,” said Bob Miller, Albertsons chairman and CEO. “The process of re-opening these stores as Albertsons, Safeway and Vons locations will take some time for us to obtain the appropriate licenses, but we are confident that our operating playbook will help us create stores that customers will love to shop again.”
Some of the stores will reopen as Albertsons and some as Safeways.
In the Tacoma area, a store at 15805 Pacific Ave. S. near Spanaway and a store at 4831 Point Fosdick Dr. N.W. in Gig Harbor will reopen as Safeways.
Stores in Milton at 2800 Milton Way and in Puyallup at 11012 Canyon Road E. will become Albertsons.
Haggen was forced to sell the those stores and others throughout the West after it filed for bankruptcy in September. A Delaware federal judge last week approved the sale of several dozen stores. Haggen has asked the court for permission to put more on the auction block this winter. The chain originally had planned to keep those additional stores as part of a smaller profitable network of stores, but the company said further investigations showed it more profitable to sell them than to continue operating the stores. The judge’s decision on that further sale is still pending.
The fate of the stores that attracted no bidders at last week’s sale is still unknown. One of those stores is at 111 S. 38th St. in Tacoma.
Those stores were among 146 acquired by Bellingham’s Haggen as the result of a merger between two of the West’s largest grocery chains, Albertsons and Safeway. Federal regulators had required the sale of those stores as a condition of the merger to preserve competition in the grocery business.
The combined Albertsons/Safeway bought 33 at auction.
Haggen, a small Northwest chain, was overwhelmed by the task of expanding so quickly and fell into financial difficulty just a few months after acquiring the stores.
The next major step of this Chapter 11 bankruptcy is the proposed sale of the 32 core Haggen stores, including five in Whatcom County. A hearing to discuss this potential auction is scheduled for Friday, Dec. 4. A number of objections have been submitted to the court, including one from the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union. If the auction of the core stores does move forward, it is scheduled to take place on Jan. 8.
John Gillie: 253-597-8663