Economic Woes Could Spark Industry Mergers

Now that the credit crunch has knocked the wheels off private equity's shopping cart, industry observers are anticipating that strategic consolidation could make a comeback at least, once reduced demand brings asking prices down. Strides made toward reducing debt and strengthening operations in recent years have put large retailers like Kroger and Safeway once again in a position to expand by acquisition,

Now that the credit crunch has knocked the wheels off private equity's shopping cart, industry observers are anticipating that strategic consolidation could make a comeback — at least, once reduced demand brings asking prices down.

Strides made toward reducing debt and strengthening operations in recent years have put large retailers like Kroger and Safeway once again in a position to expand by acquisition, sources said. If large retailers can benefit from current inflation trends — a

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