March 20, 2018 / 12:47 AM / a month ago

UPDATE 1-Kroger's Fred Meyer plans to phase out firearms business

(Adds NYC Comptroller’s statement and background)

March 19 (Reuters) - Kroger Co’s superstore chain Fred Meyer said it would exit its firearms business, two weeks after deciding to stop selling guns and ammunition to those under the age of 21.

Earlier this month, Kroger joined other U.S. retailers such as Walmart Inc and Dick’s Sporting Goods Inc to bar the sale of firearms to those under 21, following a deadly shooting at a Florida high school.

Fred Meyer said it was working on plans to phase out sales of firearms and ammunition.

“This is a victory for communities and for common sense. And it’s a positive step for our pension fund beneficiaries and for public safety,” New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer, who oversees the city’s public pension funds, said in a statement. Stringer said he had called for Kroger to cease selling firearms last year.

Several large money management firms that own shares in gun makers, including BlackRock Inc, the world’s largest asset manager, and State Street Corp, have felt the heat following the Florida massacre and have sought answers from gun makers and distributors.

Fred Meyer said the firearm business generated about $7 million annually, while it also highlighted “softening consumer demand.”

Fred Meyer operates 133 stores in Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington and sells firearms in 43 of them.

Reporting by Nivedita Balu in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and Leslie Adler

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