Grocery giant Kroger Co., parent of Fry’s Food & Drug stores, has submitted a bid for on-the-block Albertsons, the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times reported.
Albertsons and Fry’s spokeswomen declined to comment Monday on the reports. The Wall Street Journal cited "two people familiar with the matter" as sources.
Both publications said a handful of investment groups also are bidding on the Boise, Idaho-based chain.
Albertsons — which also owns several drug store chains, including Osco stores in Arizona — put itself up for sale a month ago.
Last week, pharmacy trade publication Drug Store News said CVS is trying to land the company’s stand-alone Osco stores.
The Albertsons spokeswoman declined to comment on that report or say whether the company would be willing to sell the drug stores separately.
Fry’s already has a quarter of the Arizona grocery market, even more— nearly 29 percent — of Valleywide grocery sales.
The company got so big in Arizona through a succession of mergers in the late 1990s that swallowed up the Smitty’s and Smith’s chains.
Nationwide, Cincinnatibased Kroger already is the biggest U.S. supermarket chain with $58.36 billion in annual revenue.
Although Albertsons is the smallest of the major chains in Arizona, nationwide it is second biggest.
Fry’s, which dwarfs other supermarkets chains and the Wal-Mart Supercenters in Arizona, considers Wal-Mart its biggest future rival. Adding Albertsons would make it a more formidable opponent.
The deal would leave Fry’s with more than 35 percent of the Arizona grocery market share, more than double Wal-Mart’s share.
If the merger of the two grocery giants is a go, some Valley supermarkets may be closed or be sold off where Albertsons and Fry’s stores are in close proximity.