- A spokesman for Marsh Supermarkets told Muncie, IN’s Star Press that multiple companies are interested in acquiring some of the chain’s remaining 44 stores. The retailer filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy earlier this month and has restructured in a bid to find buyers.
- Giant Eagle, which operates more than 400 stores throughout the East Coast and Midwest, is rumored to be looking at several locations. A spokesman declined to comment on the matter.
- Analysts say other possible buyers could include Kroger, Albertsons and Save-A-Lot.
Sun Capital Partners has closed nearly two-thirds of Marsh’s stores since it took ownership of the iconic Midwestern chain in 2006. The closures failed to boost the company’s fortunes, and now, having entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy, the private equity firm hopes to generate acquisition interest in a core offering of 44 stores.
If these stores don’t find buyers, they too will close by early July.
As a legacy grocer, Marsh has a solid foothold in many upper middle-class communities around Indianapolis and elsewhere in the state. But unfortunately, so do other chains like Kroger, Wal-Mart and Meijer, all three of which chipped away at Marsh’s once dominant market positioning over the years. Any grocer that takes over Marsh stores will face stiff competition, and may have to make deep investments to come to the table.
Indianapolis, especially, has become a fiercely competitive market. Natural and organic grocers like Fresh Thyme and Earth Fare have joined numerous traditional retailers. Two years ago, Kroger initiated a $500 million campaign to build new stores and update current ones in the city.
Whether grocers see potential in Marsh’s stores or not, they can at least value the troubled retailer’s story. Once the most successful retailer in the Hoosier State, Marsh failed to defend its home turf as supercenters, natural retailers and fresh-focused traditional grocers moved in. In 2015, after years of steadily closing stores, Marsh finally announced it would build new locations and remodel existing ones in the Indianapolis market. But this decision came far too late, and was misguided for a company that needed to focus on the basics.
Many see Marsh’s downfall as a cautionary tale of what can happen to a traditional retailer that isn’t proactive in its approach. Others, meanwhile, see it as a taste of things to come. Regardless, many conventional retailers have invested in store updates and other costly measures in hopes they don’t meet a similar fate.