The CEOs of Kroger and Albertsons defended their proposed merger before the U.S. Senate on Nov. 29, saying grocery shoppers would still have plenty of options.
Kroger announced Oct. 14 that was planning to acquire Albertsons. The two companies are America’s No. 1 and 2 pure-play grocers respectively, and concerns were raised immediately about the effects of the deal on competition.
Testifying before a subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Kroger CEO Rodney McMullen said, “I just don’t see less competition going forward. It’s easy for customers to make a right turn or a left turn.”
Albertsons CEO Vivek Sankaran testified that the merger is necessary for both companies to compete in what he called a “completely transformed” marketplace for food retailing. “The best way to compete with megastores like Walmart and highly capitalized online companies like Amazon will be through a merger with Kroger,” Sankaran said.
The hearing was led by Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah), who pressed the CEOs about large payouts made or announced to shareholders of both companies.
A contrasting viewpoint was offered by the CEO of a small chain in Ohio, who said that the deal would make the merged company even more able to squeeze competitors like his company with predatory pricing.