Marsh CEO Kelley quits for job in New England

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Marsh Supermarkets CEO Joe Kelley resigned Tuesday, and the Fishers-based chain launched a search for its third chief executive in a little more than a year.

Kelley, a veteran of New York-based Price Chopper Supermarkets who took the helm at Marsh in May 2011, left to become president of the New England division of Stop & Shop, a 375-store grocery chain owned by Dutch food giant Ahold.

Marsh named Chief Operating Officer Bill Holsworth, who joined the company in 2006, as its interim CEO.

Florida-based Sun Capital Partners, which owns Marsh, has launched a national search to select a new leader for the chain of 70 Marsh stores and 26 MainStreet Markets in Indiana and Ohio, the statement said.

Marsh has struggled to restore market share it has lost over the years to its primary rival, Kroger Co., along with newer grocery offerings from the likes of Walmart, Meijer and Target. At last check, Kroger had local market share of 27.5 percent, compared to Marsh's 16.5-percent share.

Sun, which acquired the floundering supermarket chain in 2006, tried to sell it a few years ago but couldn't find a buyer. That's when it brought in Kelley, who told IBJ for a September 2011 story that turning around Marsh was a three- to six-year project.

Kelley launched a new competitive pricing strategy and plotted a revamp of the chain's Fresh Idea loyalty program. He vowed to spend $60 million over three years to build up to 10 new stores and remodel several more. He also hired another former Price Chopper exec, David Siegel, in the newly created position of senior vice president of merchandising and marketing strategic initiatives.

In January, Kelley joined Mayor Greg Ballard to announce the chain's plans to build the first new Marsh store since 2004, as the anchor of an $85 million mixed-use development bounded by Michigan Street, Capitol Avenue, Vermont Street and Indiana Avenue.

It appears the company still plans to build the downtown store. Holsworth, the interim CEO, in the statement said he looks forward to implenting "very strong growth plans for the future, including a new state-of-the-art store we are building in downtown Indianapolis."

Holsworth previously held CEO positions with Lowe’s Food Stores in North Carolina, Finast Supermarket ST in Ohio, and S&H Green Stamps in New York City.

Kelley replaced Frank Lazaran, who left Marsh in April 2011 after a five-year stint as CEO.


  • Good Ridance
    I left the Meat department and, ultimately the state of Indiana because I had no faith or hope that it could rebound to what it once was.
    It makes me sad that they had a great, loyal customer base which as a manager and employee, loved like a second family. But the company was going down the tubes, so to speak, ever since sun capital took it over.
    Morale is low for several reasons:
    -Every experienced employee was either forced out or, demoted to save on overhead.
    -New programs within the Meat Dept. that constantly shot the department in the foot everyday it opened.
    -Slashing of benefits
    -Keeping employees indefinitely as "part time" to deny any benefits
    In my personal experience, I was scheduled to receive vacation pay, which I accrued over the years and they refused to pay it. So I gave them the "take this job an shove it" approach and haven't looked back since.
    Many people commenting mention the customer service as the main reason but when you treat your employees as thieves (while it is management who is really robbing the employees) how do you expect people to get excited to go to work in the morning??? What is there to look forward to?
    I will miss the co-workers who I've shared a decent amount of time with but Marsh is not Marsh anymore.
  • good
    Mash will miss kelley's talent. Great guy well respected. Very much a people person and great leader. S&S will gain by this move.
  • Private Capital at Work
    This is how private capital works.

    -Acquire a business with minimal cash.
    -Leverage all of its property with as much debt as possible.
    -Keep the cash, which is many multiples of your original investment.
    -Cut wages, people and investment in the company by hiring outside management whose only incentive is to cash out.
    -String out your vendors.
    -Struggle along with a huge debt load until you sell the company to the next pumper and dumper or declare bankruptcy.

    For further details, see Romney, Mitt.
  • Sad
    Sad that this company's management cannot recognize that the in-store managers need to be held accountable. Agree that moral in stores is low. Customer service is about all Marsh has left to offer and even that is lagging due to poor store management. Meat dept. is going down hill fast.
  • Loyalty
    Kris, loyalty to the company for the you work for must be at a all time low as well. Looking from the bottom up is always an easy way to call it from the cheap seats. I am sure you are a motivating force to those you manage.
  • PC
    Anyone form PC corporate would be toxic to any other company.... I worked for them and EPIC FAIL is too good a phrase to use when it comes to the leaders of that company.
  • Agreed
    I am in retail management at Marsh and this is great news. Morale is at an all-time low and the corporate office is totally inept. All Kelley did was hire his Price Chopper cronies. Unfortunately the good ol' boy system is still too much in place for any real changes to be accomplished.
    • HEB
      I wish H-E-B bought Marsh instead. Low prices and none of that nonsense Fresh Idea card crap. They could have gone places!
    • Bring Don Back
      Why don't they try bringing Don Marsh back as CEO? He built the chain and is probably bored to tears right about now.
    • Marsh Needs CEO!!
      Bill, greetings from Indianapolis. I hope all is well. I'm sending this story about Marsh so you are up to speed on the latest and greatest. You need to be their CEO. Let me know how I can help!

      After being a vendor to Marsh for over 15 years, we "fired" them as a customer last month because they were way beyond "slow pay" and their facilities management department is the worst we have ever dealt with (calling them "inept" would be a kindness.

      I like shopping there however, because most of the stores are empty and there are no lines. Something is up! I can't believe they are still in business.
      • PE
        Working for a private equity firm stinks.
        All they care about is $ now.
        • Revolving Door at Marsh
          Let's go Krogering, Krogering, Krogering. Let's go Krogering - the better way to shop!!

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