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Marsh Shares Revitalization Plan

INDIANAPOLIS -- Bill Marsh, the new chief executive of the struggling grocery chain that bears his name here, outlined a recovery plan last week that includes pursuing smaller stores, and becoming "more convenient" for customers.

The executive disclosed the plan in an interview in The Indianapolis Star, on the heels of his company's announcement of its second straight quarterly loss.

Bill Marsh had recently been named president and c.e.o. of the grocery chain following the dismissal of four family executives and a host of other sweeping initiatives intended to restore profitability to the company.

The chain has also been seeking a new owner since November. Although Marsh declined to comment on potential suitors, he said the company is still is pursuing strategic alternatives, but he added that selling the company in a piecemeal deal is not an option open for exploration.

Meanwhile, under its new plan, Bill Marsh said Marsh would forsake a turf war with deep-pocketed mass merchants, to focus instead on smaller stores and signature foods like bakery, dairy, meat, deli and produce. "We can achieve what the customer wants with less overhead, less space and, at the end of the day, more convenience," Marsh said.

The multi-format Marsh will roll out a revamped concept in the next two years at newer locations, while some existing stores will be renovated and scaled down. The company said it will also explore its real estate options -- inclusive of its ownership of 34 supermarket and 44 convenience stores location -- which might find the company relocating current stores into smaller buildings.

While the company apparently faces an uphill battle, Bill Marsh and Douglas Dougherty, Marsh's c.f.o., remain optimistic that a turnaround is doable. "We are not in a financial quagmire," Dougherty told The Indianapolis Star. In the same vein, Bill Marsh harkened a memorable Clint Eastwood catchphrase. "A man's got to know his limitations. But we are not dead."
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