Nine months after announcing the biggest move into the Southern California grocery business, Washington-based Haggen Foods is giving up, leaving 127 California, Nevada, and Arizona stores vacant and laying off thousands of workers.
The closures were announced at around 2:00 p.m. on September 24. I talked with Haggen shoppers around dinnertime that evening, at the Carlsbad location (7660 El Camino Real). Most were unaware of the news.
Perhaps a sign of Haggen’s problems — most customers walked out with just a few items at a time.
Tom said he knew something was up two weeks ago when he took his five- and six-year-old boys for their usual Saturday-morning donuts. “There was no donuts,” he said. An employee told him the store didn’t get their shipment. “They weren’t paying their suppliers,” said Tom.
Cory and Gwen said they didn’t care what name was on the building. “We’re come because of the former Albertsons employees that still work here,” said the La Costa residents, hoping some other store will take Haggen’s place.
Dean said Haggen never had the selection and quality that Albertsons had. “But I’m disappointed,” he said when he heard the news. “It’s a very convenient location to all of us in La Costa.”
A manager gathering carts in the parking lot said he couldn’t discuss the situation but invited me inside to speak with customers. “It’s pretty screwed up,” he said. As management, he won’t be able to return to his former employer, Albertsons.
With suppliers and creditors reportedly ready to cut them off, Haggen filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection two weeks ago. The Haggen executive who shepherded the nine-billion-dollar acquisitions was fired a few months ago.
Haggen, an 80-year-old chain in the Pacific Northwest, operated only 18 grocery stores in 2014 before buying Albertsons stores and entering the Southwestern U.S. region. The firm has since filed lawsuits claiming that Albertsons, which owns the Vons and Safeway chains, purposefully withheld important pricing and food-trend information.