Grocery Chain Bankrupt, Just Like That

     WILMINGTON, Del. (CN) – Six months after expanding into Southern California by buying dozens of Albertsons and Vons stores, Haggen groceries filed for bankruptcy, in what one industry watcher called the fastest flop in modern supermarket history.
     Haggen Holdings and affiliates, a Northwest grocery chain, filed for Chapter 11 Tuesday. Haggen Opco South declared $500 million to $1 billion in assets and liabilities. Its largest single debt, unsecured, is $115 million to Unified Grocers. It owes millions more to food and drink distributors.
     Haggen bought 146 Albertsons and Vons stores in March, 83 of them in California. It has only 18 stores in its home region, based in Washington.
     Quoting Burt Flickinger, director of the Strategic Resource Group, the Orange County Register called it the fastest failure in modern supermarket history.
     The Register, calling a “high priced” chain, attributed the failure to Haggen’s inability to figure out where it fit in the market, and to ferocious competition in heavily populated Southern California.
     Flickinger told the Register it would cost a family of five in Southern California $1,000 more a year to shop at Haggen than at Ralphs.
     Albertsons sued Haggen for $41 million this summer, and Haggen said it would close 27 of the stores it bought.

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