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Haggen agrees to sell stores in Tigard, Lake Oswego, beyond to Albertsons

Agreement announced Friday requires U.S. Bankruptcy Court's approval.

This story has been updated from its original version.

TIMES FILE PHOTO - Bellingham, Wash.-based Haggen is liquidating its remaining supermarkets. The company announced Friday it has agreed to sell 29 locations to Albertsons, from which it purchased dozens of stores just last year.Albertsons to Haggen and back again?

The Haggen supermarket on Southwest Barrows Road in Tigard is one of 29 locations that Haggen Food & Pharmacy announced Friday it has agreed to sell back to Albertsons.

Haggen expanded dramatically early last year as it took over some 146 grocery stores that the Federal Trade Commission ordered Albertsons and Safeway to sell off when the two supermarket chains merged. But the Bellingham, Wash.-based grocer has not thrived since the acquisitions, with stores in Tigard, Tualatin and Sherwood among dozens shuttered across the West within months of the deal closing.

In September, Haggen filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

As part of those bankruptcy proceedings, the company auctioned off 91 stores in November. Albertsons, the former owner of many of those stores, bought back 33 of them, including Oregon locations in Baker City, Eugene, Springfield and Ashland.

At that point, Haggen said it would focus on its “core” stores and one stand-alone pharmacy in the Pacific Northwest. Those locations included 16 stores and the pharmacy previously owned by Haggen, as well as others — including the Lake Oswego and West Linn locations — that were acquired from Albertsons and Safeway earlier in the year.

But those plans were squashed by a judge in December, who ordered the chain to find new owners.

The auction of "core" stores, which was originally scheduled for January and then moved to a succession of dates in February, was expected to finally take place in a New York City law office on March 18. The agreement announced Friday with Albertsons eliminates the need for that auction altogether.

Friday's announcement is the latest step in Haggen winding down its business operations, as it said it will seek approval to hold going-out-of-business sales at three stores not included in the sale agreement with Albertsons, including a a location in Oregon City.

In addition, Haggen has already filed a motion with the bankruptcy court to begin going-out-of-business sales for four non-core stores — in West Linn and Clackamas in Oregon, and in Federal Way and Burien, Wash. Haggen told state officials Thursday those stores are expected to close permanently by May 9, resulting in the layoffs of 263 employees (including 68 in West Linn and 70 in Clackamas).

In a posting to its members Wednesday, the United Food & Commercial Workers Union said it would be scheduling meetings for dislocated workers "as soon as possible."

"These meetings will inform you about how this will impact health and welfare and pension benefits," the union said.

The Barrows Road store and another store on Boones Ferry Road in Lake Oswego are the only remaining Haggen supermarkets in Portland's Westside suburbs. They are among seven Oregon stores ticketed to sold to Albertsons, according to Haggen. The other stores are in Washington.

The $106 million agreement with Albertsons remains subject to finalizing documentation and requires U.S. Bankruptcy Court approval. Haggen said it expects the court to rule on the sale and other motions at a hearing on March 29.

It was not clear whether employees at the stores Haggen has agreed to sell will become employees of Albertsons. A Haggen spokeswoman told The Times she had no further comment Friday evening, and requests for comment from Albertsons and the FTC were not returned.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with more information and background.

By Mark Miller
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