The Fresh Market is pulling back all of its planned new store openings for 2018 so as to concentrate on existing operations, the company told WGB.
It was not immediately clear how many locations would be affected by the decision, in part because precise opening dates for its stores are not set, and some openings had already been delayed. According to Planned Grocery, a service tracking grocery store developments by Beitz and Daigh Geographics, the Greensboro, N.C.-based Fresh Market currently has 12 stores in development: four under construction; five planned, meaning they have signed leases with developers; and three proposed stores in pre-development.
The decision has affected at least one store that was under construction and due to open this year in Cape Coral, Fla. The retailer also has stores under construction in Nashville; Holly Springs, N.C.; Lexington, S.C. and Bluffton, S.C., Planned Grocery said. The Fresh Market previously had delayed some openings, including Madison, Ala., according to reports.
“The Fresh Market is proud to be a member of the communities which our 176 stores serve. At present, the company believes the most efficient growth vehicle is to focus on improving core operations within its existing footprint, so it has decided not to open any previously announced new stores for 2018,” Fresh Market SVP Scott Duggan said in a statement provided to WGB.
“The company does not plan to comment on individual properties or leases at this time,” he continued. “Our focus remains on strengthening and growing our in-store operations, guest service program, merchandising selections, future offerings and, of course, our team members, as well as planning and executing new store openings after 2018.”
The Fresh Market underwent a similar slowdown in 2016, delaying several projects while it retooled its store format shortly after the company was taken private by Apollo Capital Management. It resumed rollout of a revamped format last year, but appears it could be switching gears again under a new CEO, Larry Appel, who took over for Rick Anicetti late last year.
The Fresh Market expanded rapidly as a public company but experienced sales and expansion challenges in the wake of the recession and a consumer flight to value and retreated to its Southeast base.