Troubled Pacific Northwest grocery chain Haggen announced Monday it would begin unloading some of its California stores to Commerce warehouse retailer Smart & Final and Encino’s Gelson’s Markets.
Gelson’s Markets has signed an agreement to buy as many as eight Haggen stores in California, including locations in Santa Monica and Thousand Oaks.
Gelson’s Markets Chief Executive Rob McDougall said the company – which now has 18 grocery stores in Southern California – would look forward to the opportunity to expand.
“Our bid is subject to higher and better offers at an auction currently scheduled for the beginning of November,” McDougall said in a statement. “Should our bid prove successful, it will be a benefit for thousands of shoppers who value quality products and exceptional service.”
Employees at the Haggen locations could also be hired by Gelson’s, according to McDougall.
Smart & Final would purchase 28 stores in Nevada and California, as well as related assets, for $56 million in cash. Each store would be converted into a Smart & Final Extra, which is larger than traditional warehouse stores. Local locations in the deal include stores in Palmdale, Redondo Beach, San Pedro, Torrance and Westlake Village.
Smart & Final operates 270 stores.
All of the sales will have to be approved by a bankruptcy court. Smart & Final’s deal would close in the fourth quarter, according to company officials.
Haggen filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last month in the wake of its purchase of 146 Albertsons, Pavilions and Vons stores last year. Albertsons sued Haggen in July, accusing the company of fraud in failing to pay for more than $36 million of inventory when the stores were purchased. Haggen later sued Albertsons for $1 billion, accusing it of sabotaging its efforts to succeed in California as well as four other states.
Haggen hopes to go to court by Oct. 19. The bids to purchase stores would have to be submitted by Nov. 2 with an auction possibly taking place on Nov. 9.