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Earth Fare Sold to Oak Hill, Seeks New Growth

FLETCHER, N.C. — Oak Hill Capital Partners said it has acquired an 80% ownership stake in Earth Fare in a move it said would prepare the 25-store natural food chain for “its next phase of growth.”

Oak Hill, a New York-based private equity firm, is buying the share from Monitor Clipper Partners, the Cambridge, Mass.-based firm that had owned Earth Fare since 2006. Monitor Clipper, along with Earth Fare’s current management team led by Jack Murphy, its chief executive officer, will retain a minority ownership. The transaction values the company at $300 million.

Earth Fare was founded as a single store known as Dinner for the Earth in Asheville, N.C., in 1975. It describes itself as differentiating from competitors by employing the strictest food standards in the supermarket industry. Its stores average around 25,000 square feet and are located in eight states, including Ohio, into which it expanded beginning last year.

"Earth Fare's unique ‘Food Philosophy’ and commitment to educating its local communities about healthy living create an authentic shopping experience and loyal customer base, as evidenced by its strong historical growth,” Tyler Wolfram, a partner of Oak Hill Capital, said in a statement. “Earth Fare is well positioned for expansion given robust consumer demand for natural and organic food, widespread interest in environmental sustainability, and significant market opportunity across the United States. We look forward to working closely with Jack Murphy and the rest of the management team to support Earth Fare’s next phase of growth."

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