Kroger is in talks with a new US pharmacy to build on its existing pharmacy business, with the first sign of a possible merger being the sale of its Express pharmacy chain.
The move would bring together Kroger and the US retail giant Express on one platform, as well as the American online pharmacy platform, which is valued at $8.5bn.
Kroger is partnering with Amazon.com to sell the Express pharmacy, which was acquired by Walgreens in 2012 for $1.4bn.
Express, which includes pharmacies in Canada and Mexico, is currently a joint venture between Kroger, which operates Kroger stores, and the Canadian pharmacy giant Pharmacy Benefit Inc, which also operates pharmacies in Mexico.
Kraft, the world’s largest supermarket chain, has also been looking to buy out some of its rivals, with some investors including Warren Buffett having been interested in acquiring the retailer.
However, Kroger’s foray into the pharmacy business is a step closer to joining forces with Amazon, which has been pursuing a pharmacy acquisition strategy with other retailers.
A spokesperson for Express said the deal “will help strengthen Krogers position in the US pharmacy space”.
“Krogers pharmacy team and Kroger retail team are committed to delivering high quality, affordable and innovative health and wellness products to the American public,” the spokesperson said.
Express has about 100 stores in the United States, as part of a broader strategy to build its international business.
Krocherts pharmacy business was acquired for $8bn by Walmart in 2012, which now operates about 3,000 stores in 31 countries.
Walmart has previously bought and closed stores in Canada, India and Europe, but Kroger has been keen to consolidate its pharmacy business in the Americas.
Its new acquisition is part of Kroger s expansion into healthcare in the last few years, which saw it open more than 3,100 pharmacies in the U.S. and more than 7,500 in Canada.
Krispy Kreme, a Kmart franchisee, is also in talks to sell its US pharmacy business.