April 1, 2016

Kroger forms ‘strategic partnership’ with Lucky’s Market


NIWOT — Grocery giant Kroger Co., the Cincinnati-based parent of King Soopers and City Market stores in Colorado, announced Friday that it has formed a “strategic partnership” with Niwot-based Lucky’s Market.

“Kroger has made a meaningful investment in Lucky’s, which will significantly accelerate Lucky’s Market’s growth in new and existing markets,” the companies said in a joint statement. “This strategic partnership is designed to further enhance the best products, practices and techniques Lucky’s Market has to offer. These strengths, combined with Kroger’s scale and experience, will in turn create benefits for customers and help Lucky’s Market grow over time.”

Financial terms of the partnership, which closed on Friday, were not disclosed. However, Ben Friedland, Lucky’s vice president for marketing, told BizWest on Friday that there are “no plans to change the leadership at Lucky’s or lay off any team members.” Co-founder and chief executive Bo Sharon “is still in charge,” Friedland said, “and his leadership team is not changing at all. Kroger made an investment in Lucky’s, and that includes the people.

“It’s an investment,” he said. “It’s not an acquisition.”

Officials at Kroger (NYSE: KR) said the move was designed to bolster its “deep ongoing commitment to providing customers with affordable fresh organic and natural foods as a part of its Customer 1st strategy.”

Friedland said the acquisition “gives us an opportunity to further our mission by leveraging the things Kroger can bring us. We can be a better version of ourselves, and we think this relationship with Kroger is really going to help us do that.”

The alliance follows Kroger’s merger with Roundy’s, which operates Mariano’s Fresh Market stores in the Chicago area.

Sagent Advisors LLC and Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati acted as financial adviser and legal adviser, respectively, for Lucky’s.  Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP acted as legal adviser to Kroger.

Lucky’s, founded in 2003 in Boulder by chefs Trish and Bo Sharon, has stores in Boulder and Longmont as well as 12 other states, and employs more than 1,800 people. Its “Organic for the 99 percent” store format emphasizes its selection of natural and organic foods as well as personal-care products, and wine and beer in many markets.

Kroger operates 2,778 retail food stores under its own name and a variety of others in 35 states and the District of Columbia.

Dallas Heltzell
With BizWest since 2012 and in Colorado since 1979, Dallas worked at the Longmont Times-Call, Colorado Springs Gazette, Denver Post and Public News Service. A Missouri native and Mizzou School of Journalism grad, Dallas started as a sports writer and outdoor columnist at the St. Charles (Mo.) Banner-News, then went to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch before fleeing the heat and humidity for the Rockies. He especially loves covering our mountain communities.
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