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Murphy vows to 'put the swagger back' in Fairway

Fairway Market’s new CEO on Thursday said the chain would launch a new marketing campaign he said would “put the swagger back” in the iconic but struggling New York food chain.

Speaking publicly for the first time since being named Fairway’s CEO in October, Jack Murphy told investors at the ICR XChange event in Orlando, Fla., Tuesday, that Fairway would emphasize its unique positioning as a “specialty plus” store that combines destination and conventional offerings, doing so in a “big, bold and rebellious” way.

The campaign, set to break in March of this year, will follow a period of attending to the basics of retailing that has gone on since Murphy arrived. These efforts include initiatives to improve same-store sales; adjust pricing and promotional productivity; and address supply chain management, shrink and labor, Murphy said.

Key to these efforts, Murphy explained, was to plan and verify using data to a greater degree than the company had previously used.

“You have to use data — not to undo the merchant instinct but to enhance it,” he said. “The retailer who doesn’t take advantage of the technologies available to him today is not going to survive.”

Acknowledging investor uncertainty over its financial state, Murphy said the company has been working to preserve its cash position despite continued capital expenditures, noting the company by late December had around the same $35 million in reserve it did at the end of the second quarter when he arrived.


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And while new store builds have been put on hold until at least late in this calendar year, Murphy said the company had potential to add 15 to 20 new locations in existing markets. In this regard he also emphasized the need to improve Fairway’s site selection process, noting that stores would also likely be built using a smaller footprint allowing for reduced capital outlays and pre-opening expenses, and a faster path to profitability.

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