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Sprouts Completes Sunflower Merger

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Our guest blogger is Christine Kapperman, managing editor of Natural Foods Merchandiser and NewHope360, both part of our Penton Media family covering the natural products industry,

The Sprouts-Sunflower Farmers Market merger is official today.

The Boulder, Colo.-based natural foods grocer Sunflower Farmers Market and the Phoenix, Ariz.-based independent natural foods chain Sprouts Farmers Market announced on March 9 their intent to merge and operate under the Sprouts name.

The combined company will have about 150 stores and more than 10,000 employees by the end of 2012. Private equity firm Apollo Global Management will be majority owner.

In a letter to customers and employees posted online after the initial announcement, the pair's CEOs promised:

  • It will bring a greater variety of fresh, interesting products to stores.
  • Prices may improve because of corporate efficiency and the ability to combine purchasing to get the best products at the lowest prices.
  • There will be more stores, and the job opportunities that come with them.
  • And it will result in improved operations, as leaders identify and incorporate the best practices of each company.

The newly combined organization will operate from Sprouts corporate offices in Phoenix, Ariz., according to a Sprouts-Sunflower question and answer feature online. The Sunflower offices in Phoenix, Denver and Boulder will remain open for some time, before folding into the Sprouts operation.

"Everyone at Sprouts is eager to work with the Sunflower team to build a stronger company," Shon Boney, Sprouts CEO, said in a release. "In joining forces, we will create a company that is not only bigger, but better—and continue to provide our signature shopping experience with a strong committment to value and natural products."

The merger makes the chain one of the largest grocers in the Western United States.

Continued growth of large natural foods chains can cause consternation for independent retailers. But Bill Crawford, director of retail programs for New Hope Natural Media, says business owners shouldn’t expect big changes to the new partners’ strategies.

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