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Haggen takeover to begin in March, company says

Photo Credit: SUBMITTED PHOTO - A Haggen employee hangs a sign at a newly converted store in Washington. Stores in Tigard and Sherwood will be converted in March, the company says.Consider it an extreme makeover, supermarket edition.

In March, several Albertsons supermarkets across the state will close, then reopen as Haggen Food and Pharmacy stores, including sites in Beaverton, Tigard and Sherwood.

The change-over comes after the Federal Trade Commission required Albertsons and Safeway to sell off some of their stores before commissioners would approve a merger of the two companies.

Haggen, based in Bellingham, Wash., purchased 146 Albertsons and Safeway stores in Oregon, Washington, California, Nevada and Arizona. Once the changeover is complete, Haggen will be one of the largest grocery store chains in the state.

Haggen operates only two stores in Oregon currently, but will grow to 10 times that amount by the end of April. Haggen will convert two Albertsons stores in Tigard, two stores in Beaverton and one store in Sherwood. It already operates stores in Tualatin and Oregon City.

The store will also convert locations in Lake Oswego, West Linn, Clackamas, Bend, Eugene, Grants Pass, Klamath Falls and Baker City.

Oregon remodels begin next month

Haggen will tackle the conversions gradually, said Deborah Pleva, a spokeswoman for the company. Haggen started converting stores this month in Washington and will work its way south toward Oregon.

Haggen’s Portland-area stores will be the first in Oregon to make the switch, including its Tigard, Sherwood and Beaverton locations. Those conversions are expected to begin in mid-March through early April.

“We’re doing 146 stores total. That’s a pretty amazing feat to be able to roll out that quickly,” Pleva said.

The hope, Haggen officials say, is to have an entire state’s worth of Haggen stores being updated each month from February to May, with as many as a dozen stores a week being converted.

“This momentous acquisition is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to rapidly expand the Haggen brand across the West Coast,” said John Caple, chairman of the Haggen board of directors. “Now that the deal has closed, our team is focused on seamlessly converting these 146 stores to the Haggen brand over the next five months.”

On the day of the conversion, stores will close in the early evening, with crews working throughout the night to reopen by the following afternoon, Pleva said.

“Many of these will be converted quickly, but the conversations are going to be pretty extensive,” Pleva said. “They have to put down fresh paint, new signs inside and out, retag everything, meet with employees. It’s a pretty fast and furious time to convert the stores.”

Haggen plans on keeping current employees and managers at all of the new stores, Pleva said.

“Retaining the existing store employees was an essential part of the acquisition and we hope they all accept our invitation to join the Haggen family,” said Bill Shaner, the CEO at Haggen’s new Southwest division. “These are great teams and these new employees will be an incredible asset to our growing company. Plus, these familiar faces will help ease the brand transition for long-time customers.”

Tualatin model for Oregon stores

Pleva said that the new Beaverton, Tigard and Sherwood stores will be similar to the current Tualatin location, with an emphasis on locally sourced foods, as well as the staples customers need.

“Haggen is still small enough to be very nimble and responsive to each store's customers. What you find in a Bellingham store will differ from what you’ll find in a store in San Diego. Being locally focused is a core value of Haggen,” Shaner said.

The new stores will be holding informal meetings with local farmers and producers to talk about selling their products at the stores.

“It’s a call to folks in the neighborhood to get to know us,” Pleva said. “It’s a nice way to get to know what we're about.”

Each store will also donate $1,000 to a local charity on its first day, Pleva said, and will donate 2 percent of sales on select days to four additional organizations.

“We have a long history of giving back to the communities we serve,” said Haggen CEO John Clougher. “We want to demonstrate that commitment as soon as we open our doors.”

In the end, Pleva said, she wants shoppers to see the new stores as a part of their communities.

“Haggen is thrilled to be able to expose and invite more people to the Haggen experience,” Pleva said. “Haggen can really resonate with Oregonians. It’s exciting.”

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