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Haggen To Close 25 Stores In San Diego County

By Susan Murphy

A Haggen grocery store sits empty on Lake Murray Blvd. in La Mesa, California on Sept. 28, 2015.

The company announced it is pulling out the Southwest market, and will focus its operations instead around 37 stores in the Northwest as part of its bankruptcy realignment.

The Haggen grocery chain that took over numerous Albertsons and Vons stores earlier this year but quickly ran into financial troubles that led to a bankruptcy filing announced it will close all of its stores in California, including 25 in San Diego County.

The company announced it is pulling out the Southwest market, and will focus its operations instead around 37 stores in the Northwest as part of its bankruptcy realignment.

"We're pretty frustrated and disappointed," said Mickey Kasparian, president of San Diego’s chapter of the United Food and Commercial Workers International.

"They came into town, they did no advertising, they raised prices, and seemed to intentionally try to go out of business. We suspect it could have had something to do with real estate," Kasparian said. "They couldn’t have planned it any better for profit. It’s corporate America, but unfortunately it hurts workers and consumers."

The closure leaves more than 1,500 San Diego-area grocery workers out of a job, and several communities without a place to shop.

"Haggen plans to continue to build its brand in partnership with its dedicated support and store teams," Haggen Pacific Northwest CEO John Clougher said. "Haggen has a long record of success in the Pacific Northwest and these identified stores will have the best prospect for ongoing excellence."

Company officials said they are exploring sales of its stores in California, Arizona, Oregon, Washington and Nevada.

All employees of its closing stores "will receive 60-day notice of the pending store and office closures. During this process, all stores will remain open. Employees will continue to receive their pay and benefits through the normal course of business as previously approved by the court."

Albertson's has agreed to hire back many of Haggen employees, Kasparian said. "And allow them to retain their seniority and their vacations and their wages."

The 37 core stores Haggen plans to continue operating include 16 of its original locations, along with 21 stores it acquired through the Albertsons takeover.

By acquiring stores that were divested by Albertsons and Safeway, the owner of Vons, Haggen expanded from 18 stores with 16 pharmacies and about 2,000 employees in the Pacific Northwest to 164 stores and 106 pharmacies employing more than 10,000 people in Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada and Arizona.

Many industry analysts at the time questioned if the grocer bit off more than it could chew with the sudden expansion.

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