Haggen asks for permission to close more stores

AP News
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Posted: Sep 25, 2015 9:06 PM

SEATTLE (AP) — Grocery chain Haggen asked a bankruptcy court for permission to close 100 stores, which could result in more than 5,000 jobs lost in the Southwest alone.

The Seattle Times reports (http://goo.gl/i5nN8E ) the struggling Bellingham-based grocer asked the court Thursday to let it close all of its stores in California, Arizona and Nevada. The chain also plans to close 14 stores in Washington and seven in Oregon.

Haggen said in court documents that no third party is likely to make an offer for the outlets.

The move would leave Haggen with just 37 stores.

The company said in a press release the legacy stores showed strong sales growth in the past year, and the acquired stores it's keeping have proven successful.

Haggen went from a family business to a West Coast power virtually overnight after buying 146 stores from Albertsons and Safeway. Before filing for bankruptcy protection earlier this month, the company announced it would shed 27 stores.

The grocer wants to close the 100 stores as soon as possible because the sites are currently losing $400,000 a day, according to court documents. Documents also show liquidating the stores would raise $125.6 million, which Haggen could use to help pay its debt.

A California union official questioned the way Haggen and a private equity investor went about the expansion and withdrawal.

"Hopefully (they) will be investigated thoroughly by the bankruptcy court and somehow made to be held responsible for this," said Greg Conger, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers International (UFCW) Local 324, which represents 800 Southern California Haggen workers.

Haggen has blamed its situation on Albertsons, which it is suing for $1 billion, claiming Albertsons sabotaged the smaller grocer's entry into the new markets.

Previously, Albertsons had sued Haggen for not paying for some inventory transferred with the stores.

Haggen officials said employees at the stores being closed will get a 60-day notice and all stores will remain open throughout that period.

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Information from: The Seattle Times, http://www.seattletimes.com