By Kara Lopp
The planned merger between Matthews-based Harris Teeter and Cincinnati’s Kroger Co. won’t mean layoffs for any Harris Teeter employees, according to an email from company executives to staff.
Employees can expect day-to-day operations to “change very little” and “customers will see no change at all,” according to the email. The Harris Teeter name will remain and company headquarters will stay in Matthews, Thomas Dickson, chairman of the board and chief executive officer of Harris Teeter, said in a news release.
It’s all good news to Matthews Mayor Jim Taylor. Taylor listened in on a conference call Tuesday, July 9, with Kroger Chief Financial Officer Mike Schlotman after the announcement was made. Harris Teeter corporate offices, 701 Crestdale Road, employ about 400 people, and has been headquartered in Matthews since 1990. The company is among the top five employers in Matthews and paid $24,582.66 in 2012 Matthews property taxes.
“I’m very pleased and optimistic …” Taylor said. “I do sort of expect and anticipate Harris Teeter will remain in the forefront of the community and continue to be a good partner with the town. Look at all the exposure the Town of Matthews is getting. I do think it’s an opportunity for Harris Teeter to be the high-end moniker of the Kroger brand. I think Harris Teeter can … become what Lexus has become for Toyota.”
According to the merger agreement, Kroger will buy all outstanding shares of Harris Teeter for $49.38 per share in cash. In the 2012-13 fiscal year, Harris Teeter had revenues of about $4.5 billion, according to the news release. The merger, which won’t be final for several months, would give the company 2,631 supermarkets and a payroll of more than 368,300 associates across 34 states and the District of Columbia, according to the release.
There are no plans to close stores and associates will have employment opportunities with both companies, according to the release.
Kroger currently employs 343,000 associates who serve customers in 2,419 supermarkets and multi-department stores in 31 states under two dozen local banner names including Kroger, City Market, Dillons, Jay C, Food 4 Less, Fred Meyer, Fry’s, King Soopers, QFC, Ralphs and Smith’s. The company also operates 784 convenience stores, 322 fine jewelry stores, 1,182 supermarket fuel centers and 37 food processing plants in the U.S., according to the release.
Harris Teeter operates a regional chain of 212 supermarkets – 147 of which have pharmacies – in eight states primarily in the southeastern and mid-Atlantic United States and the District of Columbia, according to the release.