Marsh Shareholders Okay Buyout; New CEO Lazaran Named

INDIANAPOLIS - As Marsh family feuds simmered on the sidelines, Marsh Supermarkets Inc. shareholders gave the nod Friday for MSH Supermarkets Holding Corp. to buy the company, and shortly thereafter Frank Lazaran was appointed the chain's new c.e.o.

Lazaran -- former president and c.e.o. of Jacksonville, Fla.-based Winn-Dixie Stores Inc., and prior to that, president of Safeway's Randall's Food Markets division in Houston -- will replace current c.e.o. Don Marsh, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Lazaran, who was introduced Friday as Marsh's new chief executive by the chain's new owner, Sun Capital Partners, will be charged with boosting sales and solidifying the company's culture after a spate of widening losses, store closings, and executive firings.

Lazaran, 49, will become the first non-Marsh family member to run the 75-year-old chain, which operates 117 supermarkets and 150 convenience stores in Indiana and Ohio.

Lazaran has apparently visited numerous Marsh stores in the past 30 days to query employees and inspect displays. He was quoted in a local press report as saying what he most liked about the company "is the tradition. Don helped build a legacy," he said, referring to Don Marsh, the man who had served as c.e.o. since 1959.

Lazaran also said while was too soon to talk about any changes, he believes Marsh would do well to play up its strengths of quality products and service.

Shareholders approved the Marsh sale by a wide margin. When the transaction is completed by the end of this month, will find the grocery chain as a wholly owned subsidiary of MSH Supermarkets, an affiliate of Sun Capital Partners, Inc.

At the special meeting, 72.4 percent of the outstanding Class A common stock shareholders and 84 percent of the outstanding Class B common stock shareholders voted to approve the merger.

Sun Capital's managing director, T. Scott King, hinted that changes are in the works at Marsh, although he declined to be specific The chain has "a great foundation to build from, and we are excited about the future of Marsh," King was quoted as saying, adding that as a company, "we like to build and grow."

Sun, based in Boca Raton, Fla., specializes in buying underperforming companies and working to turn them profitable. In past deals, Sun has replaced top management, sold off divisions and cut jobs. Sun Capital affiliates have invested in and managed more than 130 companies worldwide with combined sales in excess of $30 billion since its inception in 1995.
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