Kroger (NYSE:KR) could add the Fresh Market banner to its portfolio. According to reports, the nation's largest supermarket chain is looking to acquire the specialty grocer.
Kroger is among the companies now in the second round of an auction for Fresh Market, according to Reuters. Three private equity firms are also interested; none commented on the report.
Fresh Market has been on the market since October, when it retained investment bank JP Morgan Chase to review strategic options. At one point, the company's founder Ray Berry considered taking the retailer private.
Kroger recently acquired Roundy's and that chain's Mariano's banner is considered to be its biggest asset, giving Kroger a store base popular with upscale shoppers in the Chicago market.
An acquisition in the natural foods category helps position Kroger against Whole Foods, which has struggled as the larger traditional chain makes inroads with its core demographic. Kroger is also developing its own natural foods concept and recently opened the first Main & Vine store in Gig Harbor, Washington.
-See this Reuters report
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