Roche Bros. to build 3rd ‘Marketplace’

Small store hitting lifestyle niche, executive says

Roche Bros. has revealed plans to open a third location of its Brothers Marketplace banner early next year in Waltham, Mass., signaling confidence in the innovative small-store concept it debuted three years ago.

Roche Bros. opened the first two locations of Brothers Marketplace in Weston and Medfield, Mass., respectively, in 2014 as a means of capturing the growing prevalence of single-meal and other convenience-focused food shopping trips that its traditional supermarkets were missing.

“I think after three years, we’re somewhat comfortable with proof of the concept and we’re looking to continue to grow the brand,” said Paul McGillavray, VP of sales and merchandising at Roche Bros. “Both stores have been really well received by customers and so there’s not a whole lot we are looking to change.”

Noting, however, that population density is an important element of the first stores’ success, the Waltham location should improve on that count, McGillavray said. The unit is to be located on the ground floor of The Merc, a recently opened mixed-use development in downtown Waltham that will draw residential, business and transit traffic.

“Being in a more urban environment is going to be more helpful over the long-term success of the concept,” McGillivray said. The store, planned for 8,500 square feet is also slightly smaller than its predecessors so could be more productive, he added.

McGillivray described Brothers Marketplace “not as a gourmet experience but an everyday convenience experience,” for shoppers, although assortments, presentation and service tend to cater to the “foodie.”

The stores offer a curated selection of everyday groceries; an array of fresh and prepared food; indulgences like scratch-baked pastries; and an assortment of local vendors like Armeno Coffee, based in Northborough, Mass., and Tea Guys, based in nearby Whately, Mass. Some product vendors will be handpicked by store associates, who are encouraged to provide samples and recommendations for food preparation.

The Waltham store is expected to open next spring. Rival Ahold Delhaize, which operates Stop & Shop supermarkets, has also been experimenting around Boston with a small-store concept known as bfresh, which also operates three locations today.

“The consumer is going to be the true test of whether a concept works,” McGillivray said. “But from a lifestyle perspective, it does address many of the everyday needs of today’s shoppers. They shop frequently. They shop for fresh. They are certainly shopping for prepared and convenient food. And so having these stores that are easy to shop, that are close by and easy to get in and out of, they can serve a segment of the market.”

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