Locals like grocery merger
Published 9:12 pm Tuesday, July 9, 2013
By William Scott
Grocery store giant Kroger announced Tuesday that it will acquire Harris Teeter Supermarkets in a merger that would cost Kroger $2.4 billion.
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There are no plans to close stores, terminate employees or move headquarters of either company, officials said.
There is currently no Kroger establishment in Suffolk, though a Kroger Marketplace is set to begin development in the Harbour View area this month. There is, however, a Harris Teeter located in North Suffolk that will see the effects of the merger.
Shoppers surveyed in North Suffolk on Tuesday had a generally positive reaction to the news.
“I like Kroger and Harris Teeter, however I like the price of Kroger better,” said Ross McCaskill, 40, of Suffolk, citing his familiarity and preference of the Kroger brand. “I think it would be a good thing.” Ross hopes the merger will bring Kroger products to Harris Teeter stores.
Not everyone is knowledgeable about Kroger supermarkets, since none currently exist in Suffolk. As a result, the several of those surveyed had no strong feelings about the merger.
“I have no opinion,” said Clarence Miller, 81, of Chesapeake, as he left the Harris Teeter in North Suffolk. “We (he and his wife) like Harris Teeter. We used to go to Kroger 50 years ago in Chicago.”
Overall, though, the acquisition has been met with a favorable reception.
“It’s fine. Both of them are good stores,” said Tom Stone, 66, of Norfolk. He said he is impressed with the aesthetic quality of both supermarkets. “I’m a gentleman that likes presentation.”
Stone was surprised, however, with the details of the purchase.
“I would have thought Harris Teeter would be acquiring Kroger, not the other way around.”
One of the largest retailers in the world, Kroger has 2,419 supermarkets employing 343,000 workers in 31 states, in addition to the hundreds of convenience stores, fuel centers and jewelry stores that are part of the Kroger company.
Having donated to a multitude of causes including breast cancer awareness, grassroots organizations, schools, military and Feeding America food bank partners, Kroger has been named the most generous company in America by Forbes magazine.
Harris Teeter operates a chain of 212 establishments in eight states — mostly in the mid-Atlantic and the Southeast — and the District of Columbia. Kroger will acquire the $100 million debt accumulated by Harris Teeter. Kroger purchased the Harris Teeter shares at $49.38 per share.