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Auction of Haggen’s core stores changed to Feb. 22

The Haggen grocery store at Barkley Village in Bellingham Tuesday Feb. 9, 2016.
The Haggen grocery store at Barkley Village in Bellingham Tuesday Feb. 9, 2016. pdwyer@bhamherald.com

Once again, the auction of Haggen’s core stores has been rescheduled.

The new time and date for the auction is 6 a.m. PST on Monday, Feb. 22, according to a court document filed Monday evening, Feb. 8. The auction of Haggen’s 33 stores was set to begin on Thursday, Feb. 11. It was previously scheduled for January, but was moved to Friday, Feb. 5. The auction will take place at the offices of Stroock & Stroock & Lavan in New York City.

The court document does not say why the auction has been rescheduled twice, and Haggen officials did not comment on the change.

We are not a bit optimistic that this will be the final date change.

Denise Jagielo, president of the United Food & Commercial Workers Local 367

The rescheduling is starting to rankle the union that represents Haggen workers. In a written statement, Denise Jagielo, president of the United Food & Commercial Workers Local 367, said that moving the auction again continues to place an “unacceptable uncertainty” in the lives of the workers.

“We are not a bit optimistic that this will be the final date change, and only hope Haggen’s corporate management can get organized enough so these men and women will have some certainty in their ability to continue serving their neighborhoods,” Jagielo said in the statement.

The sale hearing to approve the high bidder, which was scheduled to take place on Wednesday, Feb. 17, will be scheduled for a later date.

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. In November, Haggen auctioned off dozens of non-core stores.

At this point it has not been publicly disclosed who are the qualified bidders for the auction. A variety of options exist for the future of the Bellingham-based grocer, depending on who emerges as the high bidder. 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.

Dave Gallagher: 360-715-2269, @BhamHeraldBiz

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