As reported previously in SN, The Fresh Market had acknowledged it was reviewing strategic alternatives but speculation until now had focused on a potential going-private deal by founder Ray Berry. The Reuters report Thursday was the first to mention Kroger. It said the Cincinnati retailer had continued to a second round of bidding and that private investors Apollo Global Management and KKR were also involved in bidding. The report was based on anonymous sources.
SN has been unable to immediately confirm the accuracy of the Reuters report.
The Fresh Market, which did an estimated $1.9 billion in sales in 2015, has struggled amid unsuccessful geographic expansion, and with the broader "mainstreaming" of the health and wellness trend leading consumers to seek natural and organic products at lower priced outlets like supermarkets. New CEO Rick Anicetti, who took the reigns of the Greensboro, N.C.-based company this summer, said recently that a comeback would involve a sharper eye on expenses, better price competitiveness and a redefinition of the brand.
Kroger has been experimenting with smaller, fresher focused stores including the Main & Vine store that opened earlier this month in Washington. Late last year it completed the acquisition of Roundy's Supermarkets, known for its urban fresh superstore Mariano's.
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