US supermarket operator Kroger Co said Friday (12 October) that employees at its Food 4 Less division who are members of the UFCW union in Southern California have ratified a new contract with the company.

The four-year contract, effective immediately, covers more than 5,700 employees.

The company said the agreement was reached because of the hard work of both the unions and the company. The agreement provides wage increases and affordable, quality healthcare benefits for Food 4 Less associates and their families and will help the division to be more competitive in the marketplace, a statement said.

Headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio, Kroger is one of the nation's largest retail grocery chains.