Chilean supermarket operator Cencosud is entering the U.S. market by buying a majority stake in The Fresh Market.
Cencosud has entered into a definitive agreement with funds managed by an affiliate of Apollo Global Management Inc. to acquire 67% of The Fresh Market Holdings Inc., which operates 160 grocery stores across 22 states. Existing shareholders, including the Apollo funds, the Berry family and company management, will retain a minority equity interest in The Fresh Market.
Cencosud announced the deal valued at $676 million in a filing with the Chilean government and in a news release.
"The agreement also establishes the possibility that through legal mechanisms that are practiced in the United States, after a certain period of time, Cencosud Internacional can reach a 100% stake," the Chilean firm said in the filing.
The disbursement may be adjusted "according to TFM's cash, debt, working capital and certain other variables on the date the transaction becomes effective," the filing added.
With this acquisition, Cencosud enters the U.S. market at a time of intense competition in the food retail industry, and The Fresh Market has been focused on innovation as its tries to differentiate itself from competitors.
Last month, The Fresh Market opened a new format in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., its second location featuring the specialty grocer’s innovative center store culinary kitchen and coffee bar concept.
Located at 4925 PGA Blvd. in Mainstreet at Midtown, the 24,000-square-foot store seeks to elevate the shopping experience with a center store culinary kitchen and Roasting Plant Coffee bar. Guests have access to an array of fresh prepared foods, including barbecue, roasts, brick-oven pizza, made-to-order smoothies, sandwiches, salads, sushi and tacos. Customers can also help themselves to specialty coffee roasted in the store throughout the day. This in-store experience is similar to the layout of the company's flagship store in Greensboro, N.C., that reopened last fall.
As with its other stores, the Palm Beach Gardens location features specialty fresh foods and ingredients sourced locally and from around the world. The store will initially have close to 100 local items in the produce department that are from about 15-20 area farms. The department will offer many more local items throughout the season from close to 50 farmers — and that list is constantly growing.
Over in the meat department, dry aging will be available upon request for beef cuts. Also available is a selection of whole or fresh-cut fish, shellfish and live lobster provided by The Fresh Market's own fish houses, and locally sourced. Upon request, the store will steam guests' seafood selections in-store, providing the convenience of a fully cooked meal to go.
"We're proud to join the Palm Beach Gardens community and provide guests with an inspired, unique shopping experience that will pique the interest of food lovers," said Jason Potter, CEO of The Fresh Market. "Our merchandising team has been working closely with Florida farmers and suppliers for the freshest produce and favorite guest items, and our center store culinary kitchen with fresh sushi and menu favorites like barbecue and brick-oven pizza will certainly be able to answer the age-old question, 'What's for dinner tonight?'"
Potter added: "For 40 years, The Fresh Market continues to offer a European market atmosphere with a show of fresh-cut flowers when entering the store, aromas of the freshest brewed coffee, a special curated selection of produce and groceries to choose from and greetings from the friendliest employees. We believe this store will soon become the ‘go-to’ destination for people in the Palm Beach area to help make their everyday meals extraordinary."
Customers of the Palm Beach Gardens location will be able to sign up for The Fresh Market's recently launched Ultimate Loyalty Experience. The program offers exclusive savings, rewards and even a free slice of birthday cake during shoppers’ birthday month.
The Palm Beach Gardens location marked The Fresh Market’s 160th store, 47 of them in Florida. The Greensboro, N.C.-based company operates in 22 other states and is No. 76 on The PG100, Progressive Grocer's 2021 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.
The grocer has been named the “Best Supermarket in America” in USA Today’s 10Best Readers’ Choice Awards for two years in a row.