Despite a Thursday deadline, the parent of the Ralphs / Hughes supermarket chain did not ask for an extension or supply a list of potential buyers for stores that the state attorney general said must be sold to comply with state antitrust law.
Instead, a Ralphs executive said the company plans to submit a list of bidders by Sept. 10--the date it believed to be the deadline. That is two weeks later than the date confirmed by the attorney general's office.
"Because we've had a good working relationship with the attorney general, we wouldn't want to do something to intentionally upset their office," said Ari Swiller, vice president of external affairs for Ralphs. "We do plan on adhering to what we believed to be the scheduled date of Sept. 10."
For its part, the attorney general's office said it believes the firm to be working in good faith and would not try to punish Fred Meyer Inc., whose Ralphs chain acquired Hughes Family Markets in February.
"In the big picture, the importance here is maintaining or enhancing grocery store competition in Southern California," said Staci Turner, a spokeswoman for the attorney general. "What's important to us is that they've made a good-faith effort."
Under a court-approved consent decree, Fred Meyer was ordered to sell 19 of its Southland stores to satisfy state antitrust concerns. Six of the stores are in the Valley.
The decree gave Fred Meyer six months to find potential buyers for at least 13 of its stores. The attorney general's office said the six-month deadline would be Aug. 27. The remaining buyers must be found by November.