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Haggen core stores may be sold to Albertsons

The Haggen store at Barkley Village is one of the core stores that are up for sale.
The Haggen store at Barkley Village is one of the core stores that are up for sale. eabell@bhamherald.com

The union that represents Haggen employees says that government regulators have given approval to a potential deal where Albertsons would purchase the remaining core Haggen stores, five of which are in Whatcom County.

Haggen officials did not have a comment about the union statement.

In a written statement, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Local 367 said the Federal Trade Commission has approved a potential acquisition of the core stores and that both Albertsons and Haggen are finalizing the purchase agreement.

Local 367 represents the south part of the Puget Sound region, including Pierce County, which has seen stores close and employees lose their jobs as Haggen goes through this Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

“It appears that other bidders are not going to raise their bids or otherwise make them qualified bids, so the scheduled auction is cancelled and the sale to Albertsons will be put before the court for approval in the next week,” according to the written statement from Local 367.

“This news will hopefully end the uncertainty for our members and our communities. Our members look forward to continuing their unparalleled dedication to the neighborhoods and their customers,” said UFCW Local 367 President Denise Jagielo in the written release.

Union locals that represent other Haggen workers were not reached for comment.

More information should be available in the coming days, said Nathe Lawver, communications director for Local 367. He said the reaction he’s received from members has been one of relief, but also caution as they await more information. The union represents members for both Haggen and Albertsons, so the transition could be smooth for employees.

“We’re just relieved that we will be able to keep these friendly faces that the customers know at these stores,” Lawver said in a phone interview, referring to the workers.

If a purchase agreement is finalized and approved by the bankruptcy court, it will be one of the last steps in what has been a tumultuous year for the Bellingham grocer. Last December Haggen agreed to purchase 146 stores from Albertsons so that Albertsons could gain regulatory approval to merge with Safeway. Haggen had a difficult time converting those stores to its brand and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy Sept. 8, 2015.

Dave Gallagher: 360-715-2269, @BhamHeraldBiz

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