TORONTO — The eight Super Fresh stores being taken over by Mrs. Green’s Management Co. will be remade to include prepared foods and natural/organic selections, although the merchandise mix and a new brand for the stores is still under consideration, according to the chief executive officer of the Toronto-based retail group that acquired the stores at an auction last month.
In an interview with SN Thursday, Matt Williams, CEO of Natural Market Restaurants, Toronto, said the stores would likely include elements imported from its various retail concepts, including Mrs. Green’s — a strict natural and organic chain based in Scarsdale, N.Y. — and Richtree Market, the market-style restaurant chain the company operates in Canada.
He said a new concept currently under construction at a Skokie, Ill., shopping mall, Wilde & Greene, would also provide an idea of the company's vision for the Super Fresh stores.
Wilde & Greene, expected to open later this summer, is a 500-seat restaurant featuring various open-kitchen food stations and a retail food market that is replacing the food court at Westfield Old Orchard, an upscale shopping mall.
"We don't have a definite approach that we're willing to share at this moment," Williams said. "But we're pretty experienced in natural and organic grocery, and we feel that these eight stores would all benefit from having not just a token appearance of natural and organic but a strong presence. We see a couple of the stores being entirely natural and organic."
Some of the larger stores would likely include conventional groceries as well, he added. Williams said the company hoped to keep the stores during their transition and that they would likely be rebranded as part of a transition of the company's other concepts.
Williams said the company's first priority for the acquired stores is meeting with various stakeholders, including unions representing workers, and landlords, some of whom have expressed concerns over the company's creditworthiness.
Williams declined to provide details of Mrs. Green's performance, but he said the company as a group has grown cash flow 58% in the past 12 months while maintaining a strong balance sheet with room for growth.