ENCINO (CBSLA.com) — Gelson’s Markets is taking Haggen’s failure to thrive in Southern California as an opportunity to expand.

Six former Haggen stores will reopen as Gelson’s in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, Ventura and San Diego counties.

“We’re excited to become part of these communities, a process that may take time in order to customize stores for each neighborhood,” said Gelson’s President and CEO Rob McDougall. “Our goal is to retain as many local Haggen workers as possible while also giving opportunities to existing Gelson’s employees, as well as others who wish to join the Gelson’s family.”

Gelson’s anticipates closing on the stores late this year and relaunch them early next year under its own brand with initial improvements to product selection and merchandising, followed several months later by redesign and construction. Existing pharmacies will remain open during the transition.

The Encino-based chain did not divulge the terms of the agreement, which follow the Haggen’s September bankruptcy filing.

The six stores locations are:

— 2627 Lincoln Blvd., Santa Monica;
— 25636 Crown Valley Parkway, Ladera Ranch;
— 36-101 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage;
— 2707 Via De La Valle, Del Mar;
— 730 Turquoise Street, San Diego; and
— 1736 Avenida De Los Arboles, Thousand Oaks.

Besides the newly acquired Haggen’s stores, Gelson’s is also planning to open new stores in Rancho Mission Viejo and Manhattan Beach.

Founded in 1951, Gelson’s currently operates 18 specialty grocery stores in Southern California.

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