The Cincinnati Business Courier reported on Monday that Kroger could be a prime bidder for some Rite Aid or Walgreens drug stores that will need to be sold when the two companies complete their merger later this year. Kroger was rumored to be interested in purchasing Rite Aid before the chain reached a deal with Walgreens.
Industry experts say that about 500 of Rite Aid's 4,600 stores will need to be sold.
Kroger, the nation's largest operator of traditional supermarkets, is also the nation's fifth largest pharmacy operator with 2,200 in-store locations. Leon Loewenstine, an investment strategist with RiverPoint Capital Management, believes such a deal would only make sense if Kroger planned to keep running any acquired drug stores, where they could keep using the chain's customer loyalty cards. Loewenstine compared the idea to Kroger's launch of stand-alone gas stations, which supplement their gas stations at Kroger supermarket locations.
"It would be a new venture, a new avenue of growth for the company," said Loewenstine. "They could compete with Walgreens and CVS. If anybody can do it, it would be Kroger."