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Haggen fires back, sues Albertsons for more than $1 billion

Jordan Bell, KCBX News

The grocery wars are heating up here on the Central Coast as the Haggen chain filed a lawsuit Tuesday against Albertsons for more than $1 billion. 

The suit claims Albertsons has used illegal competition tactics breaking Federal Trade Commission orders and various state laws.

The complaint said Albertsons engaged in “coordinated and systematic efforts to eliminate competition and Haggen as a viable competitor in over 130 local grocery markets in five states,” according to a statement released by the grocer on Tuesday.

Carlos Illingworth is a spokesperson for Albertsons and told KCBX, "The allegations in the lawsuit are completely without merit," in an email response to a request for comment.

Haggen stores have had a difficult time gaining a foothold in California since opening their doors this past spring and the grocer said that's partly the fault of Albertsons.

Haggen bought 146 stores from Albertsons and Safeway back in December, as part of a major expansion effort. It's now in the process of closing more than 20 locations, including the one in Los Osos.

The purchase also allowed Albertsons and Safeway to move forward with their merger plans. In July, Albertsons filed a $41 million suit against Haggen saying money was still owed on inventory included as part of the multi-store purchase.

Haggen and Albertsons are also facing a lawsuit from the union representing some of the employees saying they were unfairly let go.

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