LUBBOCK, Texas — Kroger and Albertson’s, the parent company of the Lubbock-based United Family, announced a definitive merger agreement Friday morning – a deal worth approximately $24.6 billion according to a joint statement.

According to its website, United Family has 95 stores in 51 communities by the brand names United Supermarkets, Market Street, Amigos, United Express and Albertson’s Market.

The joint statement did not specify the fate of United or other Albertson “banners.” The statement said Kroger already serves more than 11 million shoppers daily “seamlessly” under a variety of banner names. Albertson’s operates 24 banners including United.

“Kroger has a track record of successful integrations that combine the strengths of each company while maintaining and enhancing each organizations’ distinctive banners and storied histories,” said Rodney McMullen, Kroger Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, who will continue serving as Chairman and CEO of the combined company.

“This transaction is a testament to the passion and commitment of both Albertsons Cos. and Kroger associates,” McMullen said. “Supporting and investing in our associates is foundational to both of our organizations and will continue to be a critical pillar of our success.”

The transaction is expected to close in early 2024, subject to regulatory approval.

As part of the transaction, Albertsons Cos. will pay a special cash dividend on November 7 of up to $4 billion to its shareholders of record as of October 24, 2022, the joint statement said.

“Together, Albertsons Cos. and Kroger currently employ more than 710,000 associates and operate a total of 4,996 stores, 66 distribution centers, 52 manufacturing plants, 3,972 pharmacies and 2,015 fuel centers,” the statement said. “The combination creates a premier seamless ecosystem across 48 states and the District of Columbia.” reached out to United for comment locally.

We were referred to Albertson’s, and a spokesperson said, “Nothing changes about our stores today, and our focus continues to be providing great service to our customers. The merger isn’t expected to close for many months. Until then, Albertsons and Kroger will continue to operate as two separate companies and it is business as usual.”