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Haggen has announced plans to abandon the Pacific Southwest market, meaning the chain will close or sell all of its California locations including the Santa Monica store.

The company filed for bankruptcy on September 10 and at that time announced some store closures. However, in a September 24 announcement the company expanded the list of closures and said it would realign operations around 37 core stores with one stand-alone pharmacy in the Pacific Northwest as part of its Chapter 11 process.

Haggen said it has been actively working to explore market interest for its store locations in California, Arizona, Oregon, Washington and Nevada.

Haggen was a small grocery chain based in Washington State in 2014 that exploded almost overnight when it said it would purchase 146 stores that Safeway/Albertsons were forced to sell when the two giants merged. Haggen grew from 18 stores with 16 pharmacies to 164 stores with 106 pharmacies; from 2,000 employees to more than 10,000 employees.

The company ran into trouble almost immediately and was unable to turn a profit from many of its new stores.

At the time of purchase, Haggen said it would rely on cooperation from the newly merged Albertsons/Safeway to facilitate the transition process. However, Haggen contends that Albertsons actively derailed the transition process the two have filed lawsuits against each other as a result of the sale.

In a statement, Haggen said it is asking for approval to conduct store-closing sales.

“All employees of the non-core stores and the Pacific Southwest support office will receive 60 day notice of the pending store and office closures,” said the statement. “During this process, all stores will remain open. Employees will continue to receive their pay and benefits through the normal course of business as previously approved by the court.”

Albertsons has previously said it would give priority to former employees laid-off as a result of Haggen closures. Haggen said it supports employees looking for work elsewhere and said it is working with the Federal Trade Commission to facilitate rehiring of employees who would have been barred from returning to their previous employer as a result of the sale/merger.

“This has been a priority for Haggen management to ensure its employees can take advantage of every opportunity available to them,” said the statement.

Employees at the Santa Monica location said they were unable to comment on the corporate announcement but said the store was currently open.

In its announcement, Haggen said its original stores have seen strong sales this year and that 21 of the newly acquired locations that are in its original market have also proven successful.

“The Company anticipates they will continue to see increased customer counts and sales growth as Haggen continues its original mission of adding more fresh, local, and exclusive items to these new stores and expanding on its successful Pacific Northwest strategy,” said the statement.

“Haggen plans to continue to build its brand in partnership with its dedicated corporate support and store teams. Haggen has a long record of success in the Pacific Northwest and these identified stores will have the best prospect for ongoing excellence,” said John Clougher, Chief Executive Officer of Haggen Pacific Northwest.”Although this has been a difficult process and experience, we will remain concentrated in the Pacific Northwest where we began, focusing on fresh Northwest products and continuing our support and involvement in the communities we serve.”

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