The future of Chicago's grocery stores
The $24.6 billion merger between grocery giants Kroger (which owns Mariano's and some smaller chains) and Albertsons (Jewel) could have serious repercussions for the area.
Why it matters: The merger could affect about 250 local grocery stores if approved and shines a light on how unique our market is nationally.
By the numbers: Kroger, the nation's largest standalone supermarket chain, operates only 44 stores here; Albertsons has about 185 Jewel-Osco locations.
- Walmart owns the largest share of the U.S. grocery market, but not here due to Chicago's strong pro-labor roots.
Between the lines: The fight over Walmart expanding here had much to do with how the conglomerate sets prices for manufacturers while keeping labor costs down with a track record of questionable tactics.
- Some are worried those issues will be at play again with the Kroger/Albertsons deal.
- Industry analysts also warn of monopoly issues that could drive higher grocery prices.
What they're saying: "The merger secures union jobs, and we will continue to work with local unions across America to serve our communities," Kroger CEO Rodney McMullen said in a press release.
- "Kroger plans to invest in lowering prices for customers and expects to reinvest approximately half a billion dollars of cost savings from synergies to reduce prices for customers."
Yes, but: These "synergies" could also force layoffs and closings of local stores. Jewel and Mariano's operate competing stores in Northalsted, the South Loop and Naperville, among other areas.
- If Kroger swallows Jewel, some fear the latter's name could fade into warm fuzzy history like Dominick's and Butera.
- Stores could also be spun off into a third brand.
- Some worry that stores in Black and brown communities could end up on the chopping block, as the Englewood Whole Foods did this year.
Context: Albertsons bought Jewel in 1999. Dominick's closed for good in 2013, with members of the family creating Mariano's. Kroger then bought Mariano's in 2015.
💭 Justin's thought bubble: Take a new look at an old friend — because it may not be there for long. I love Chicago grocery stores. My first real job was at Dominick's. But the days of our favorite grocery stores may be numbered.
More Chicago stories
No stories could be found
Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Chicago.