Marsh In Midst of Chainwide Store Upgrade, Rebranding

INDIANAPOLIS -- Marsh Supermarkets has rolled out a chainwide initiative that will cost over $10 million to remodel its stores in about a year's time and rebrand most of them, in a bid to win back shoppers.

Forty-six of the chain's 104 stores in Indiana and Ohio, among them all former LoBill locations, will be called Marsh Hometown Markets, while most of the rest of the locations will be known as Marsh the Marketplace, Marsh spokeswoman Connie Gardner told Progressive Grocer.

The exceptions are the chain's six O'Malia stores, she said, which are being reviewed individually to determine whether their name should be changed, by examining such factors as customer preference and loyalty to the existing banner.

In addition to being spruced up, stores will have their presentation and product mix improved. The two new banners differentiate between "Marsh quality at an affordable price" and "Marketplace" stores with a bigger selection of specialty meats and natural and organic products.

"It's been a long time in this chain since we've had the ability to [upgrade]," Marsh c.e.o. Frank Lazaran told the Indianapolis Business Journal. "Our customers are excited that we're here to stay, and equally important, our associates are very happy we're spending money in the stores."

To concentrate on its core assets, Marsh has sold off its McNamara Florist division, and convenience store chain Village Pantry is now a separate entity that reports directly to private equity firm Sun Capital, which bought Marsh in October 2006, with similar plans in the offing for Crystal Catering.

According to Lazaran, Marsh's investment in individual stores will range from about $200,000 to over $2 million. Some stores will have smaller meat departments, although custom cuts will still be available on request.

Lazaran said that all the stores that have been remodeled have seen an increase in sales. Gardner told PG that 19 stores have already been overhauled, with 12 more to be completed by the end of this month.

All 104 Marsh stores "would be touched in some way," she said, ranging from a minor refresh to a complete overhaul, depending on the needs of each individual location.

The renovations should take 12 to 15 months.
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