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Alleging that a "coordinated and systematic [effort] to eliminate competition in violation of Federal Trade Commission orders and various federal and state laws," Bellingham, Wash.-based Haggen has filed a lawsuit against Albertsons LLC and Albertsons Holdings LLC (“Albertsons”) seeking more than $1 billion in damages.
“Albertson’s anti-competitive conduct caused significant damage to Haggen’s image, brand, and ability to build goodwill during its grand openings to the public,” according to the complaint, which continued: “Albertson’s unlawful acts destroyed or substantially lessened the economic viability, marketability and competitiveness of the [Haggen] Stores, depriving consumers in each of the Relevant Markets the benefits of substantial competition from a new market entrant.”
The formal complaint, which was filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware, charges that following Haggen’s December 2014 purchase of 146 Albertsons and Safeway stores, Albertsons engaged in “coordinated and systematic efforts to eliminate competition and Haggen as a viable competitor in over 130 local grocery markets in five states,” and “made false representations to both Haggen and the FTC about Albertsons’ commitment to a seamless transformation of the stores into viable competitors under the Haggen banner.”
Albertsons sought out Haggen in order to convince the FTC that Haggen would be a new competitor in local markets, which enabled Albertsons to gain the FTC’s approval of a merger between Albertsons and Safeway – a merger that created “one of the largest food retailers in the United States, with over 2,200 stores and $61 billion in combined sales,” according to the complaint.
“The allegations in the lawsuit are completely without merit,” according to a published statement from Albertsons/Safeway spokesperson Carlos Illingworth.