Q&A: Kroger Co. (KR) and Harris Teeter deal

What does it mean for you?

CINCINNATI - As news of the Kroger Co. acquisition of Harris Teeter unfolds, WCPO Digital is working to find out what the deal means for shoppers.

Here's a Q&A about the deal. Feel free to add more questions in the comments section below that you want answered.

Q: What does the deal mean for Harris Teeter?

A: Harris Teeter, which is based in Matthews, N.C., will become a division of Kroger. The chain will maintain the Harris Teeter banner, its management teams, its new store growth plan, its distribution and manufacturing facilities and its headquarters, according to a Harris Teeter spokeswoman.

Q: Will Kroger close Harris Teeter stores?

A: That's a bit unclear. Kroger executives told analysts Tuesday morning that Kroger and Harris Teeter have "minor overlap" in Raleigh, N.C.; Charlottesville and Hampton Roads, Va.; and Nashville, Tenn. They said they don't expect the Federal Trade Commission to require the company to close any stores for the deal to get approval. And Kroger executives said they want to continue to expand the Harris Teeter brand.

Q: What will this mean for Kroger locally?

A: It could ultimately mean changes to Kroger stores. Kroger executives said one of the things they like about Harris Teeter is the company's Express Lane Online Shopping, where customers can order their groceries online and let grocery staff do their shopping for them for a small service fee per trip. Kroger also is impressed with how much fresh food the Harris Teeter stores sell and wants to study that. All of this could bring changes eventually to local operations.

"We will certainly see some of the best of what they do influence our stores everywhere," Kroger spokesman Keith Dailey wrote in an email to WCPO Digital.

Q: Will the Tri-State get a Harris Teeter store?

A: That doesn't seem likely since Kroger is expanding its Marketplace stores locally.

"Doubt we'd see the brand on a store here," Dailey wrote.

Q: How is Harris Teeter different from Kroger?

A: Loyal Harris Teeter shoppers say the stores are more like Fresh Market or Whole Foods than a typical Kroger store. The chain offers Harris Teeter brand products such as Hidden Veggie Pasta, as well as organic foods, pet food and kitty litter, baby products and home products as well as HT Traders gourmet foods.

Monica Kurlemann, a Hyde Park event planner, said she loved the diversity of products and the Harris Teeter private label items when she lived near Washington, D.C., and shopped at the store regularly.

"Whenever I needed to find some random ingredient, I'd go to Harris Teeter. I still have a couple things in my cabinet that I bought five years ago," she said. "I'm sure everyone who lives in areas with Harris Teeter are like, 'Don't change our grocery stores!'"

When asked if any of Harris Teeter's private label products would be sold locally, Kroger's Dailey replied: "A little premature to speak to operational questions...stay tuned."

Q: Will Harris Teeter accept Kroger loyalty cards if the deal goes through?

Kroger executives said Harris Teeter has its own loyalty cards. If the deal goes through, Kroger will ask dunnhumby USA to explore new options for those cards. They also said it's too early to say whether fuel points will be expanded.

One expert said Harris Teeter customers should expect to receive targeted mailings and other promotions like those that Kroger customers now receive.

Read the original report on the acquisition at http://www.wcpo.com/dpp/money/business_news/kroger-kr-to-buy-harris-teeter-for-about-244b

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