CINCINNATI — Kroger's decision to partner with gift card provider Blackhawk Networks, a subsidiary of competitor Safeway, demonstrates the importance of gift cards to the supermarket industry, sources told SN. Blackhawk, Pleasanton, Calif., said late last month it is running its Gift Card Malls in Kroger's 2,491 locations in 31 states. For Kroger's part, the program meets a consumer need, said spokeswoman Meghan Glynn. “We are seeing a growing interest in gift cards, and this agreement ...

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