Haggen aims to keep 17 old stores plus "some" recently acquired ones

Haggen may soon be back to where it started—a small Northwest grocery chain.

The Bellingham-based grocer’s bankruptcy filings show it plans to keep 17 stores that it owned before buying 146 former Albertsons stores in January. Those stores will be  “augmented by some” recently acquired stores.

Documents filed in a federal bankruptcy court in Delaware don’t specify how many new locations Haggen aims to keep, but a budget forecast indicates that the company could shrink by more than two thirds.

Haggen filed a budget forecast in court that shows its projected weekly sales going from $41.6 million for the week of Sept. 11 to $13.4 million by the beginning of December.

The company is still evaluating potential store sales and closures, but is not releasing information at this time, Haggen spokesperson Deborah Pleva said.

One possible indicator of the brand’s future territory is that “Pacific Southwest” region CEO Bill Shaner left the company days before the bankruptcy filing. Shaner was responsible for stores in Nevada, Arizona and Southern California.

Haggen had 18 stores before its massive expansion. One of those stores, a Tualatin, Oregon, location, is closing.

The supermarket chain filed for bankruptcy on Sept. 8, just seven months after acquiring 146 stores as part of the merger between Albertsons and Safeway. The Federal Trade Commission ordered Albertsons to shed the stores over anti-competition concerns.

Haggen began converting former Safeway and Albertsons stores throughout the West Coast in February. Pricing and stocking problems started surfacing almost immediately. In August, the company announced plans to close 27 stores.

Haggen blamed its failed expansion on Albertsons, alleging in a $1 billion lawsuit that Albertsons sabotaged store conversions, using confidential information to ramp up competition with Haggen as its stores opened.

Haggen further accused Albertsons of purposefully running out of some items, overstocking perishable items — including loading meat freezers at one store with 256 cases of frozen turkeys — and diverting inventory away from soon-to-be-closed stores prior to store conversions, all of which violated the two companies’ purchase agreement.

Oliver Lazenby, associate editor of The Bellingham Business Journal, can be reached at 360-647-8805, Ext. 5052, or olazenby@bbjtoday.com


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