Rebranding fails as Haggen plans to close two more local stores

BELLINGHAM, Wash. - In what is turning out to be a rough week for some Puget Sound retail employees, more than 140 people will be forced to find work after Haggen, Inc. announced it's closing two more of its grocery store locations for good.

The news comes only one day after Kmart announced plans to close its store in Puyallup this November, putting more than 50 people out of work.

According to the Bellingham-based grocery chain, poor sales are to blame for the decision to close the Haggen Northwest Fresh stores in Bellevue and Shoreline.

There are 75 employees working at the Bellevue location and 74 employees in Shoreline. A company spokesperson says it will work with each of the affected employees to find positions at other stores. Haggen is also in the process of helping 64 employees at its TOP Food and Drug store in Tacoma after announcing in July this location would be closing too.

According to the company, the stores in Bellevue and Shoreline have struggled with sales for some time. Originally operating under the company's TOP (Tough on Prices) Food and Drug store brand, Haggen, attempted to try and salvage the stores by remodeling and rebranding the two locations as Haggen Northwest Fresh stores.

"Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, we were unable to turn these stores around," says Clement Stevens, co-president and senior vice president of merchandising.

While the transition to the Northwest Fresh brand has not been successful at these two stores, Stevens says the concept, which focuses on local food production, is working at nine other locations around the region.

Currently the company is in the process of converting its TOP Food store in Olympia into the Northwest Fresh brand, with a grand reopening scheduled for Aug. 14.

Customers can expect to see going-out-of-business sales start within the next week at both the Bellevue and Shoreline locations. Haggen expects the stores to officially close their doors within the next six to eight weeks.

Haggen currently operates more than 20 stores in Washington and Oregon under the Haggen Northwest Fresh and TOP Food & Drug names.