Sprouts to merge again, this time with Sunflower Farmers Markets - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Sprouts to merge again, this time with Sunflower Farmers Markets

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - The largest chain of produce stores in San Diego County, now known as Sprouts Farmers Markets, announced Friday it will merge with Phoenix-based Sunflower Farmers Markets.

Sprouts, which merged last year with its old spin-off chain, Henry's, has 21 stores in San Diego County and more across the southwest. The combined chain will operate about 150 stores in eight states under the Sprouts Farmers Markets name when the deal is completed.

Sunflower's stores also are in the southwest and in Northern California.

The merger will give the stores "more resources, greater access to the freshest products and a stronger commitment than ever to bring you a wide variety of fresh produce and affordable healthful foods," Sprouts CEO Shon Boney and Sunflower CEO Chris Sherrell said in a statement.

The merger is subject to regulatory approval and could take a few months to complete, they said.

Boney said customers aren't likely to see changes until the merger closes, when he hopes stronger buying power will result in lower prices.

Sprouts, formed in Phoenix in 2002, has its roots in the old Boney's and Henry's markets, which were based in San Diego. All the locations now operate under the Sprouts name.

Apollo Management - the private equity firm that owns Sprouts - will hold a majority stake in the combined company, according to Boney.

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