United Natural Foods, Inc. (U.N.F.I.) has reached an agreement to acquire Minneapolis-based Supervalu for $32.50 per share in cash, or approximately $2.9 billion.

“This transaction accelerates U.N.F.I.’s ‘Build out the Store’ growth strategy by immediately enhancing our product range, equipping us to bring an attractive, comprehensive product portfolio to an expanded universe of customers,” said Steve Spinner, chief executive officer and chairman of U.N.F.I. “Combining our leading position in natural and organic foods with Supervalu’s presence in fast-turning products makes us the partner of choice for a broader range of customers. Together, we can provide our ‘better-for-you’ products as well as other high-growth segments, improving customers’ competitive advantages in a dynamic marketplace. These benefits, plus our increased efficiency and productivity, will enable us to create value for our shareholders, enhance opportunities for our suppliers, provide a broader assortment for our customers and create new prospects for our associates over the long term.”

Mark Gross, c.e.o. of Supervalu, said the transaction represents the “best and natural next step” for the company as it continues to execute a strategic transformation plan that was put in place more than two years ago.

The companies identified several strategic benefits to the transaction, including a diversified customer base, better cross-selling opportunities, expanded market reach and scale, enhanced technology, capacity and systems.

Potential financial benefits include significant synergies and accelerated growth. The companies said they expect U.N.F.I. to realize run rate cost synergies of more than $175 million by year three of the merged company. Meanwhile, after year one the transaction is projected to be accretive to adjusted earnings-per-share in year one with double-digit adjusted e.p.s. growth after year one, excluding one-time costs.

United Natural Foods facilityU.N.F.I. said it plans to divest Supervalu’s retail assets.

Mr. Spinner will lead the combined company, while Sean Griffin, currently chief operating officer of U.N.F.I., will lead the Supervalu integration efforts, post close, and lead an integration committee comprised of executives from both companies to drive the implementation of best practices from each company and the delivery of important synergies.

U.N.F.I. distributes more than 110,000 products to more than 43,000 customer locations, including natural product superstores, independent retailers, conventional supermarket chains, ecommerce retailers and food service customers. The company generated $9.3 billion in revenue in fiscal 2017.

Supervalu is one of the largest grocery wholesalers in the United States with a network of 3,437 stores and approximately 23,000 employees. The company has fiscal 2018 annual sales of approximately $14 billion.