Kroger invests in Lucky's

Kroger (NYSE:KR) announced a strategic partnership with Lucky's Market and will invest in growing the specialty grocer known for its focus on natural, organic and locally grown products.

Boulder-based Lucky's is known as an affordable outlet for healthy and fresh foods. "Organic for the 99 percent" is the motto, with a large selection of natural and organic food, including fresh produce, meat and seafood, prepared foods and baked goods, wine and beer, and personal care goods.

The average store is 30,000 sq. ft. and the interior is intended to resemble more of a farmers market with bins, barrels and wooden crates than a traditional supermarket.

Lucky's also offers a private label line of grocery items free from artificial colors, flavors and preservatives. The store contributes 10 percent of the profits from the "L" label store brand back into the communities where it operates.

Lucky's has 17 stores in 13 states in the Midwest and Southeast United States. Kroger plans to make "a meaningful investment in Lucky's, which will significantly accelerate Lucky's Market's growth in new and existing markets," according to a company statement.

The financial terms of the transaction, which has already closed, were not disclosed.

The partnership comes hot on the heels of Kroger's rumored interest in The Fresh Market. That company sold last month to private equity firm Apollo Global for roughly $1.36 billion.

Kroger has been challenging Whole Foods and taking market share among shoppers seeking out healthy and fresh foods. Lucky's could be a growth vehicle for the chain as it continues to grow this effort, even as it tests new initiatives and formats such as Main & Vine, which opened earlier this year near Seattle.

For more:
- see this Kroger press release