Answering questions about the Haggen deal

We learned late last week that the Albertsons stores in Silverdale and East Bremerton, and the Safeway in Port Orchard were among 146 locations being acquired by Haggen. (See a map of locations here).

The news generated a lot of interest and questions from readers, particularly those whose neighborhood stores are changing hands.

While we don’t have a lot of detail on how this deal will shake out, I can at least answer some basic questions. Feel free to post yours in the comment section below:

Q: Why have I never heard of Haggen?

uADctk7I9w75ZHwNOYGZDVpyjeaWD5LHfsF0IZXYwj4A: Haggen has been around since 1933 but most of its 18 locations are up north in Whatcom and Skagit counties. If you haven’t live up that way you may not have bumped into one.

On top of that, the chain was actually shrinking rather than growing before this blockbuster deal was made.

It’s still Washington’s sixth largest private company (remember behemoths like Amazon and Microsoft are publicly traded).

Q: Who owns Haggen?

A: The Haggen family did until recently. Now the majority owner is a Florida-based investment group called Comvest. Comvest has funneled more than $2 billion into 140 companies, according to its literature.

TOP-Foods-Out-354975-ONLYQ: Isn’t Haggen the same as TOP Foods?

A: Yes. Well, they used to be anyway.

Haggen started TOP Foods as a “Tough On Prices” supermarket spinoff. They’ve since done away with the TOP brand, closed many of the stores, and folded the rest into the Haggen Northwest Fresh format.

Q: Why are Albertsons and Safeway unloading these stores?

A: The two grocery giants are merging. The merger requires approval from the Federal Trade Commission, which is tasked with making sure companies don’t monopolize markets.

Albertsons and Safeway have agreed to sell 168 stores to smaller competitors to get the green light from the FTC. I don’t have a clear answer yet on how the specific stores were picked.

Q: When will my Albertsons/Safeway store become a Haggen?

A: By the middle of 2015. The deal is expected to be finalized by the end of January. The acquired stores will switch brands during the first half of next year.

Q: What are Haggen stores like?

A: I haven’t been in a Haggen in many years, but the consensus among people I’ve talked to is they’re more upscale than your typical Albertsons/Safeway.

Haggen emphasizes locally-sourced food, though a spokeswoman said it will take time to build those sources in the new market areas.

Q: So is my Albertsons/Safeway suddenly going to look like this?

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A: Probably not. A spokewsoman said the stores may get some light remodeling but no major overhauls that would require them to close.

Q: It’s going to be more expensive, isn’t it?

A: Short answer: Probably.

Longer answer from the Haggen spokeswoman: “It may be a bit more of a premium shopping experience, but it pays dividend in the community.”

Haggen tries to work with local producers, pay its employees well and support community programs, she said.

Q: Will I see the same employees after the changeover?

A: Haggen is offering jobs to any Albertsons/Safeway employees who want to stay and plans to keep management teams in place.

 Q: What does the grocery workers’ union think about this?

A: Most Safeway and Albertsons workers in our area are members of UFCW 21. Some Haggen stores are unionized, some are not.

Haggen will honor union contracts as part of the acquisition agreement. Here’s a statement to Albertsons/Safeway workers from UFCW spokesman Tom Geiger:

“Many of you have dedicated years of work to your company and may have mixed emotions. Having said that, it is good news that these stores will be acquired by a company that recognizes the Collective Bargaining Agreement, rather than by a non-union operative.”

Have other questions I might be able to answer? Post them below.

20 thoughts on “Answering questions about the Haggen deal

  1. My daughter returned recently from a few years in Bellingham at Western. She was not impressed with her local Haggen store. She said it was really expensive, the bakery was bad, and the produce was just ok. As soon as she got a car she stopped shopping there.

    1. haggens is expensive. I am at western now and make a trip across town to Fred Meyers. I enjoy safe way in port orchard and am not happy it’s leaving.

    1. I am NOT at all happy about the Safeway in Port Orchard becoming a Haggen store. I have been told by numerous people that Haggen will be more expensive than Safeway. There are also certain products that i need to get that are Lucerne products. (i.e., O-organic turkey and chicken #2 baby food for my elderly cat). I would like to know if there will be any Safeway stores left open in Kitsap county, close to Port Orchard. As far as Haggen goes, I will check it out for comparison of prices, but if it is more expensive I will not shop there. I’d rather go to Fred Meyer instead. Much more appealing to me.

  2. Some will like Haggens some won’t. I live a block away from a Haggens and I love it.

    I decided to do the $ test with a Wallmart up here bought the same thing maybe not the same brand, of cheeze, drug store products, I am pickey about fresh foods so I avoided Wallmarts produce. Bottom line is that the price wasn’t that much different and I had to drive 5 mi more to Wallmart, so savings was NOT that great. Specifics, some products cheaper~~if it is run by good managers you will like Haggens.

    Oh, one more thing they have great deli, their roasted chicken, about 8.00, yes double that of Costco, is good w/o any of those horrid seasonings and their fried chicken, if you want to splurge is great. I also know that the Galloping Gormet use to have input about their fresh salads and I would see him once in a while shopping there. That is what I was told anyway and made sense.

    I think Bremerton will be pleasantly surprised.

    1. I just updated the first paragraph of this post with a link to a handy map of all the locations being acquired.

      It looks like a Port Angeles Albertsons is included in the deal, but your Port Townsend Safeway is remaining a Safeway.

  3. The Safeway store we once shopped at is now a Haggen store. It’s already obvious to the wife and I that Haggen prices are higher on many products we would buy at Safeway. An item priced at $2.50 will sell for $3.60 as an example. Consequently I see the two of us at least once a month driving 10 miles further to a different Safeway store. Other people shopping at this Haggen store are also voicing their discontent about the elevation in Haggen’s food prices compared to the old Safeway store. I see Haggen losing clientele at this store in the near future because there are other places to shop instead.i

    1. I agree… My husband and I feel the exact same way.. I first noticed the major difference when I drove out to pt orchard to take as friend shopping, and stopped at the Safeway gas station. Surprise. Not only did we find the prices sky high, the gas st s tions no longe rd take the reward card points either. Last point, my friend pointed out, was they’ve taken one of the few STORES that were feasible to shop at, and we’re always open, to change it to a sky high priced, 9am to 9pm store , that nobody can afford to shop at now. And no gas rewards, on top of it all.

  4. Hagen stores are way too expensive. I drive a mile away not to do my shopping. Every item I purchased at Albertsons is now about $1.00 to $2.00 more expensive than it was a month ago. NOT HAPPY AT ALL!!

  5. Hagens is very close to where I live can walk with a shopping cart, I am driving 2 1/2 miles to Stater Bros. The prices are great at Staters andI really like Staters meats. Hate to drive but no way will I pay hagens prices.

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