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Marsh rolls out new name at certain stores

November 4, 2010

A few Marsh stores are getting a new name on Thursday in what appears to be an early step to differentiate the grocery chain’s offerings in hopes of making them more marketable.

Three Marsh Hometown Market stores in Lebanon, Wabash and Franklin will be renamed MainStreet Markets.

Company officials said the move is a fine-tuning of a strategy launched in 2006 to distinguish the smaller Marsh Hometown Markets from the Marsh the Marketplace locations, which are more upscale and have a wider array of products.

Keeping Marsh in the store name made it harder for customers to draw that distinction, officials said.

“Consumer research has consistently indicated that while our initial strategy aimed to better position and differentiate our stores according to their size and varying consumer demands, the fact that both banners continued to operate under the Marsh name limited our ability to do so,” Marsh CEO Frank Lazaran said in a news release. “Operating under the name MainStreet Market will enable us to take the best of what Marsh stands for in these communities and add a much more customized marketing approach for these stores.”

The chain has about 100 stores, about half in Indianapolis. Connie Gardner, a Marsh spokeswoman, said it’s not been decided whether the chain will roll out the new name to other Hometown stores across the Indianapolis metro area, but some observers predict it will.
 
Last year, Marsh’s parent company, Florida-based Sun Capital Partners, hired an investment adviser and solicited offers to sell the chain, but got no takers.

IBJ reported in August that Sun is not immediately looking to sell the chain and will continue investing in it.

At the time, former Marsh executive Danny O’Malia said he expected the chain to change the name on some of its stores so it eventually can market the upscale Marsh the Marketplace stores and discount-oriented Hometown Market locations to separate buyers.

Indeed, when the company decides to put the stores back on the market, the outlets will be easier to sell with two distinct identities, O’Malia said this week.

“It would be hard to sell both of those types of stores to the same company,” he said. “So they might have to look to two different buyers.”

The MainStreet Markets will offer electronic savings incentives and discount clubs, and will tout a new logo. Employees at the stores will not lose their jobs or be transferred because of the name change.

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