In a push to turn around disappointing sales and connect with value-oriented customers, The Fresh Market announced a new logo, lowered prices and expanded product offerings, which will debut Oct. 26 at three stores in the Triad region of North Carolina.
The move marks the first major initiative for the struggling retailer since Apollo Global Management acquired The Fresh Market in March. The retailer said it plans to expand the new look and offerings to 13 more stores in the Charlotte and Raleigh/Durham, N.C. markets on Nov. 30. The remaining stores will be refreshed in waves through early 2018.
The biggest changes at the three initial stores — two in Greensboro, where the retailer is headquartered, and one in Winston-Salem — include lowering prices on hundreds of items, doubling the number of aisles in store, and adding 1,300 everyday grocery products.
"The company has significantly expanded its grocery space in stores by adding extra shelving and reconfiguring other departments such as candy, coffee and bulk to allow customers to more easily navigate the store," Pamela Kohn, EVP and chief merchandising officer at The Fresh Market, told SN in an emailed statement. She added that new grocery products include items from mainstream national brands like Campbell's and Kellogg's as well as organic and natural brands such as Annie's Homegrown, Nature's Path and Amy's Kitchen.
Though the moves would seem to mark a departure from The Fresh Market’s position as a gourmet specialty chain, Chris Miller, VP of strategy and marketing, told SN Friday the retailer intends to keep the "special" elements customers say they love while adding everyday essentials to encourage them to shop the store more often.
"What we’re trying to do is add to what customers at the core love about The Fresh Market in terms of its premium, special and extraordinary eating opportunities. But this would add to it to make sure that they can experience those extraordinary eating experiences more often," Miller said in a phone call.
In August, The Fresh Market announced it was switching to Supervalu for its grocery supply needs, a development Fresh Market president and CEO Rick Anicetti said at the time would allow for more competitive pricing.
“This is a significant milestone in The Fresh Market’s brand evolution,” Anicetti said in a release announcing the latest updates. “The reinvention of our stores will place an emphasis on delicious fresh fare, convenience, and health and wellness options. The company is investing in what our customers love most about The Fresh Market, while adding new categories requested by our shoppers. This signifies our commitment to our shoppers, as well as our dedication towards innovation and evolution in today’s dynamic food retail environment.”
Other elements of the new offer include a continued focus on fresh departments like produce, meat and seafood, as well as a new mix of deli items such as salads, entrees and wraps. The Fresh Market also plans to introduce sampling stations; new signs to demarcate departments and call out products that meet dietary restrictions; and a new Mind & Body department, which will provide a comprehensive line-up of health and wellness products.
Under Apollo’s management, The Fresh Market has already carried out some tough decisions regarding its strategy. Earlier this year, the retailer closed 13 stores and delayed the opening of at least four others.
The Fresh Market is not the first small-box fresh food retailer to get the turnaround treatment from Apollo. Its previous acquisition and makeover of Sprouts Farmers Markets has left that retailer in a strong position with value customers seeking fresh and natural and organic foods.
The Fresh Market operates 177 stores in 24 states.
Editor's Note: This story was updated on Oct. 20 to include additional comments from The Fresh Market. The original version of the story said this strategy would be a departure for the retailer, but the company elaborated on its strategy of keeping premium offerings.