As grocery giant Kroger's (NYSE:KR) $2.5 million acquisition of Harris Teeter moves into its final stages, the smaller chain is continuing to do business as usual. Last week Harris Teeter agreed to buy six Piggly Wiggly grocery stores and one future location, all in the Charleston, S.C., area.
Under the deal, which is expected to be completed in October, the six stores will be closed for a few days for stocking and retraining employees, but pharmacies will remain open. The Harris Teeter deal came as Bi-Lo said it is buying 22 stores from the Piggly Wiggly chain, 16 in South Carolina and 6 in Georgia. Financial terms weren't disclosed for either acquisition.
Harris Teeter has also begun testing a mobile-phone app that will let customers pay for curbside grocery pickup orders with their phones, and is generally proceeding as if the Kroger buyout may not happen—or at least the chain isn't standing still.
But a collapse of the Kroger-Harris Teeter deal is unlikely. Harris Teeter shareholders are scheduled to vote on Oct. 3 to confirm the sale. After that, Kroger will still have to wait for the Federal Trade Commission to give its final approval, Kroger CFO Michael Schlotman told investors on an analyst call last week.
That isn't expected to be a problem either. Though the southeastern U.S. is a hotbed of grocery consolidation right now, there's relatively little geographical overlap between Kroger and the 212 Harris Teeter stores. Kroger and Harris Teeter both have stores in Nashville, Raleigh-Durham, N.C., Charlottesville, Va., and the Hampton Roads, Va., area.
But even that overlap may not mean store closings, since the plan is for the Harris Teeter stores to continue operating under its own banner. Kroger has a history of operating stores under different banners in the same area.
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