PASADENA, Calif. — HOWS Markets, a four-store conventional supermarket chain developed by members of the Hughes family and several former executives of Hughes Markets, is for sale — a victim of the weak economy, Mark Oerum, one of the principals, told SN Tuesday.
"It's been a challenge, but it's time," he said.
Oerum said the death in July of Roger Hughes, former chairman and chief executive officer of the 58-store Hughes chain, was also a factor in the decision to sell.
The four stores, all in California, include a 38,000-square-foot unit in Torrance; a 32,000-square-foot unit in Pasadena; a 21,000-square-foot location in Granada Hills; and a 16,000-square-foot store in Malibu.
The owners put the stores up for sale Oct. 1, Oerum told SN, "and we are working on several deals now," though he declined to be specific about the timing of any sale.
HOWS has since laid off 70 store-level employees and five administrative staffers out of a total of about 200 employees, Oerum said. At the same time it stopped putting out an eight-page mailer and began featuring four or five items a week in an Internet-based ad, he noted.
It also began running a series of 10%-off ads — one week for produce and meat; one week for frozen foods and general merchandise; and the past two weeks for everything in the store, "and actually, the results have been pretty decent, with sales staying up better than we anticipated without a traditional ad," Oerum said.
HOWS is an acronym of the last names of the four founders: Roger Hughes, Mark Oerum, David Wolff and Steve Strickler.