We don’t want to pile on, but what’s happening to the new Haggen presence in the Southwest, and pointedly here in California? The once small Bellingham, Washington based market expanded into the Southwest when they purchased 146 Albertsons, Vons and Safeways after those stores merged. However, they are quickly shrinking less than a handful of months after the acquisitions.
27 stores will be closing over the next two months including 21 in California. One of those stores to close will the Los Osos store here in San Luis Obispo County. And to add to the agonizing growth pains, Haggen admits this might not be the last of the closings.
It appeared there would be a new and different player in the world of supermarkets when Haggen grew from a relatively small 18 store local chain into a small regional 164 store powerhouse. Albertsons and Safeway merger forced those stores to sell off some of their locations to meet with federal restrictions regarding the mega-merger.
Plans quickly gone awry
However, Haggen has struggled from the outset and not long after the takeover, they had to lay off some of their employees. Then it was announced last month that they had been sued by Albertsons for non-payment.
As far as competition, it’s always good to see a new and different approach to marketing your services, and certainly Haggen on paper had a fresh concept both literally and figuratively. They offer more locally grown products along with fresh goods for their customers. In a farm rich region like the Central Coast, that sounded great. In Paso Robles, we had lost the only decent market in town – Scolari’s – three years ago. Haggen came in and took over the Vons and we were hopeful; but high prices and otherwise indistinguishable products, leaves us wondering if there was much or any worthy differentiation.
Apparently many others around the state are wondering the same thing as Haggen stores start to disappear less than six months after they opened. Whether they can right the ship remains to be seen and the prospects are suspect for Haggen in the Golden State; yet, we hope they can turn around what so far has been a short and dismal stay outside the state of Washington.
Daryle W. Hier
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