Kroger, the largest grocery store chain in the U.S., may be headed to the cash register again as it looks to buy Fresh Market Inc., a specialty grocery retailer that has been exploring a sale, according to a Reuters report released today.

Cincinnati-based Kroger is in the second round of an auction process for Fresh Market that has also attracted other companies and private equity firms, confidential sources told Reuters. There is no certainty that Kroger will prevail in the auction or that Fresh Market will agree to sell itself to any party, according to the sources, asking not to be identified because details of the sale process are confidential.

Fresh Market has 183 stores and operates across 27 states.

Locally, Fresh Market has stores in Crystal Lake, Geneva, Glen Ellyn, Kildeer, Lake Forest, Lincolnshire and Wilmette.

Kroger declined to comment Friday morning on the possible purchase.

Kroger is no stranger to acquisitions in the competitive grocery industry.

Kroger, completed the purchase of Roundy’s Inc., parent of Mariano’s, in December. The Ohio company bought Roundy’s for about $800 million, which included debt.

The announcement had some Mariano’s suburban shoppers concerned that changes would be made to the stores that they have grown to enjoy.

The companies told the Daily Herald that local Mariano’s grocery stores will remain the same, despite the sale of the rapidly growing chain.

“This merger blends Roundy’s complementary markets with Kroger’s strengths in scale and merchandising,” Rodney McMullen, chairman and chief executive officer of Kroger had said.

Kroger said it doesn’t plan to close any stores and Roundy’s headquarters will stay in Milwaukee.

Source: Daily Herald