Ahold (Giant, Stop & Shop) and Delhaize (Food Lion, Hannaford) announced this morning that the two companies plan to merge and become Ahold Delhaize, creating one of the largest supermarket chains in the U.S. The merger would create a company with 2,000 U.S. stores (6,500 stores worldwide), $44 billion in sales and 375,000 employees.

By comparison, Kroger, the largest full-service grocery retailer in the U.S., has about 2,650 supermarkets.

The deal, which is expected to close next summer, needs to clear regulatory clearances and obtain shareholder approval.