First Grocery Chain Takes Over Haggen Location

Gelson's first of many to move into San Diego

Grocery store employees gathered around their new boss and applauded for the future.

The former Albertsons and Haggen workers will now wear "Gelson's" on their sleeves and aprons. That's because Gelson's is one of a number of grocery chains to buy the bankrupt Haggen stores.

But how can Gelson's succeed where Haggen failed? Gelson's CEO Rob McDougall says it will take advertising, store choice and customer service.

"A first impression is not enough," said McDougall. "I've got to get those customers in three times to make it a pattern."

Gelsons opens it's first San Diego store in Del Mar this month, then another store in Carlsbad and a third store in La Jolla. Gelson is not a discount chain. McDougall says quality costs more.

He says they are a notch above a Whole Foods and similar in quality to a Bristol Farms. So why is the Los Angeles based grocery chain the first to open in a Haggen location?

"I've got Haggen associates that I'm bringing back, which are old Albertson's associates that I want to get back to work," said McDougall.

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