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Teeter Shoppers Take To Social Media To Vent Frustration Over Kroger Deal

Screenshot of Harris Teeter's Facebook page

Social media outlets are abuzz with commentary about the announcement made Tuesday that The Kroger Co. plans to purchase Harris Teeter Supermarkets for approximately $2.5 billion. All the chatter, much of it negative, even led Harris Teeter President and COO Fred Morganthall to issue a message of reassurance to the company’s customers.

“While details are still being finalized, we can tell you our name will remain Harris Teeter; our own brands will continue to reflect our name; Boar’s Head Brands will be in our Deli and the same high-quality Angus Beef will be sold in our meat departments,” Morganthall writes in what the company describes as a “message to our valued shoppers.”

“We do not anticipate any Associate changes with this merger, so rest assured you should find your favorite meat cutter, cake decorator or cashier at your Harris Teeter. We will continue to be committed to delivering excellent customer service and outstanding quality. You will continue to find fast check-out lanes and friendly Associates when you visit your Harris Teeter store.”

Harris Teeter’s Facebook page has generated hundreds of comments following the announcement. Many shoppers expressed their anger by saying they planned to take their business elsewhere.

“Back to Food Lion it is!” one shopper says, while another notes, “Harris Teeter—while a little more expensive—always has what I need, there’s someone close at hand to help me find things and, at check-out, they are all waiting with smiles to ring up my purchases.”

Worries of how the deal might impact Harris Teeter’s reputation for customer service has been compounded by more anxiety over whether its coupon doubling program will be eliminated.

“That is a bummer, since Kroger does not double or triple coupons,” one shopper says.

Another says, “Well, there goes my loyal customer service and outstanding coupon policies. Looks like I’m going to have to find another grocery store once you start impacting the current Harris Teeter methods.”

“I am going to be very upset if Kroger makes Harris Teeter follow their coupon policy, and no longer does the super doubles or triples coupon weeks,” another shopper says. “Those are some of the main reasons why I go to Harris Teeter, along with the quality, customer service and prices they offer.”

Not all the Facebook comments have been negative, however.

“I love Kroger stores. I am going to shop there for sure,” a shopper says. Another reports she is pleased to hear the news.

Kroger’s Facebook page includes additional positive comments about the pending acquisition.

“The way I see it, we have two companies who are very good at what they do. Are both perfect? No (there are no perfect companies). However I think we have two companies who do care about and do strive to get better at what they do for us the customer. What I would worry about is if the day ever came that they rested on their laurels and quit striving to get better. I am excited about this, all that buying power means savings and value for all of us. I think this will be good for all concerned.”

A Kroger employee adds, “I have been working for Kroger for 16 years in one of their production plants. We are all about providing the best products to our customers. You all come first! Kroger is good to their employees also. We love our company. Best people I have ever worked for. My plans are to stay with The Kroger Co. until I retire. We like our jobs, they are good to us, we back the company with pride.”

Harris Teeter’s Morgathall in his message to shoppers points out that Kroger is the second largest food retailer in the U.S. with sales approaching $100 billion.

“By joining them, we will become even more efficient in our ability to deliver outstanding value to our customers,” he says. “In addition, they will provide growth opportunities for our company and our associates.

“We appreciate your business and support over the years,” he adds. “Your loyalty is valued more than you will ever know. Rest assured it is the desire of both Kroger and Harris Teeter to only make Harris Teeter better through this merger for many years to come.”

Best deal for shareholders?

As is the case with most major acquisitions, the Kroger/Harris Teeter deal has led to questions about whether the pending merger is in the best interest of Harris Teeter and its shareholders.

Shareholder rights attorneys at Robbins Arroyo LLP say they are investigating the acquisition in which Kroger will acquire all of the outstanding shares of Harris Teeter common stock for $49.38 per share in cash.

Robbins Arroyo LLP’s investigation focuses on whether the board of directors at Harris Teeter is undertaking a fair process to obtain maximum value and adequately compensate its shareholders in the merger, or whether they are seeking to benefit themselves. The $49.38 merger consideration represents a premium of only 1.78 percent based on Harris Teeter’s closing price on July 8, the last trading day prior to the merger announcement.

“The 1.78 percent premium is substantially below the average premium of 31.34 percent for comparable transactions in the past three years,” a news release from the law firm says. “In addition, Harris Teeter’s board adopted an executive officer incentive bonus plan, making each of the company’s executive officers eligible for an incentive bonus equal to 35 percent of their current base salary upon the closing of the merger.”

The law firm is examining Harris Teeter’s board of directors’ decision to be acquired by Kroger now rather than allow shareholders to continue to participate in the company’s continued success and future growth prospects, the release says.

Harris Teeter shareholders, according to the release, have the option to file a class-action lawsuit to secure the best possible price for shareholders and the disclosure of material information to shareholders.
 

 

 

 

 

 

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