WASHINGTON — Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., has asked the U.S. Justice Department to examine the antitrust implications of Kroger's planned acquisition of several Schnucks stores in the Memphis, Tenn., market, according to reports.
As previously reported, Cincinnati-based Kroger Co. is seeking buy nine of the 12 Schnucks locations in Memphis and convert eight of them to Kroger. St Louis-based Schnucks would then close the other three stores, exiting the market.
According to the Memphis Commercial Appeal, Cohen cited job loss from the store closures and reduced competition for Kroger, which has the No. 1 share in the market at a little over 30%, according to data from Metro Market Studies, Tucson, Ariz. Schnucks had a little more than 12% of the share. Wal-Mart, the No. 2 operator, has about 25%.
"Without any equivalent competitors, there is a risk that Kroger may be able to take advantage of its market power to increase prices and reduce consumer choice," the newspaper reported Cohen as stating in a letter to federal regulators. "I respectfully request that you investigate the competitive impact of this sale to ensure that consumers are protected."