harristeeterAccording to various reports, retailer Harris Teeter is said to be mulling over a sale. The regional grocery and supermarket chain is said to have hired J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. to investigate its options. The chain has refused to comment, citing its policy not to comment on speculated matters.

Diamond Group industry observer Jeremy Diamond said that the chain had grown to 200 plus locations and had entered the eastern United States market, a very competitive arena with fierce competition from Stop & Shop, Target, Wegmans, Supervalu, Ahold’s Giant and ShopRite among others in the Mid-Atlantic area.

Diamond also said that the chain had to try and maximize the shareholder value. The company, which services households in the higher income bracket and has a solid location base, has had multiple competitors who were interested in acquiring a stake in the chain.

Kroger and Publix are reported to be possible buyers of the company, according to a published Reuters report, which cited unnamed sources.

Diamond has pointed out that other competitors such as Whole Foods, ShopRite, and Redner’s among others would also benefit from buying part or even all of the chain. However, shareholders had the final vote.

In quarter one of their fiscal year 2012 the chain spun off America & Efird, which was their textile division. The company wanted to focus on its core business, the supermarket business, and renamed itself Harris Teeter Supermarkets Inc. form Ruddick Corp.

In 2012, it bought 10 stores from another retailer, Lowes Foods, in the Charlotte area and gave six stores in exchange with a top up of $26.5 million. The six stores were in much smaller markets.