The Sprouts-Sunflower Farmers Market merger is official today.
The Boulder, Colo.-based natural foods grocer Sunflower Farmers Market and the Phoenix, Ariz.-based independent natural foods chain Sprouts Farmers Market announced  on March 9 their intent to merge and operate under the Sprouts name.
The combined company will have about 150 stores and more than 10,000 employees by the end of 2012. Private equity firm Apollo Global Management will be majority owner.
In a letter  to customers and employees posted online after the initial announcement, the pair's CEOs promised:
The newly combined organization will operate from Sprouts corporate offices in Phoenix, Ariz., according to a Sprouts-Sunflower question and answer  feature online. The Sunflower offices in Phoenix, Denver and Boulder will remain open for some time, before folding into the Sprouts operation.
"Everyone at Sprouts is eager to work with the Sunflower team to build a stronger company," Shon Boney, Sprouts CEO, said in a release. "In joining forces, we will create a company that is not only bigger, but better—and continue to provide our signature shopping experience with a strong committment to value and natural products."
The merger makes the chain one of the largest grocers in the Western United States.
Continued growth of large natural foods chains can cause consternation for independent retailers. But Bill Crawford, director of retail programs for New Hope Natural Media, says business owners shouldn’t expect  big changes to the new partners’ strategies.