Hometown Out, Mainstreet In

INDIANAPOLIS When SN last visited with Marsh in February of 2008, Frank Lazaran was coming off a massive financial restructuring that some observers compared to a bankruptcy reorganization. Lazaran, as Marsh's chief executive officer shortly after Sun Capital Partners acquired the company in 2006, worked to stabilize a business beset by plummeting sales and allegations of misspent fortunes among the

INDIANAPOLIS — When SN last visited with Marsh [4] in February of 2008, Frank Lazaran was coming off a massive financial restructuring that some observers compared to a bankruptcy reorganization.

Lazaran, as Marsh's chief executive officer shortly after Sun Capital Partners acquired the company in 2006, worked to stabilize a business beset by plummeting sales and allegations of misspent fortunes among the previous majority owners — descendants of founder Ermal Marsh. The financial turnaround resulted in dozens of store closures and layoffs, and sales of related businesses including catering, convenience store and floral divisions.

Lazaran had also begun polishing a brand that he said was “tarnished” by the time of the sale, beginning with soothing an employee base uncertain over its future. His store strategy involved rebranding conventional Marsh stores and Lo-Bill Foods stores under the Marsh Hometown Markets banner, while higher service stores took on the Marsh the Marketplace banner. A newly refurbished Marsh the Marketplace store in a former department store in downtown Indianapolis showcased the new fresh offering and the fruits of a revamped capital spending budget.

“We've gone from a stabilize-this-company mode to a grow-this-company mode,” Lazaran told SN at the time.

Today, that downtown Marsh the Marketplace is the company's highest-grossing store, although the “Marsh Hometown Markets” name is fading away for a more recently created MainStreet Markets nameplate. In introducing the latter brand late last year, Lazaran in a statement acknowledged that operating two brands under the Marsh name limited the company's ability to distinguish the offerings.

Lazaran announced his resignation earlier this year, citing family reasons.

His successor, Joe Kelley, credited Lazaran and his team for fixing the financial woes and quieting internal turmoil. But sales hadn't taken off as planned, and suffered further as the economy stalled.