New owner takes over at Marsh

Keywords Real Estate
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Marsh Supermarkets Inc. saw big changes in 2006 as new owners and a new CEO took over, and the Fishers-based company announced store closures and layoffs.

Boca Raton, Fla.-based Sun Capital Partners in October closed on its $88-million purchase of Marsh. The purchase included the assumption of about $200 million in debt.

For the first time since the company’s founding in 1931, a Marsh isn’t calling the shots at Marsh Supermarkets. With the deal’s closing, Sun installed Frank Lazaran, the former head of Florida-based Winn-Dixie Stores Inc., as CEO.

Days later, the company announced it planned to close 12 grocery stores-about 10 percent of its total-to improve its financial outlook.

The company also closed four Village Pantry locations and said it would reduce its headquarters staff by 10 percent, or about 40 workers.

In December, a Canadian real estate firm bought eight Marsh locations for $78 million. Marsh agreed to lease back the locations and
will continue to operate them as groceries.

The grocery chain had been struggling to maintain its market share when it announced in November 2005 that it was looking for a buyer.

Interest in the company picked up in February after Marsh reported that its real estate might be worth $100 million to $150 million more than previously thought. The company that month also cut expenses by closing eight underperforming stores and eliminating 25 headquarters jobs.

Locally based Crystal Food Services, previ
ously part of Marsh, will begin reporting directly to Sun this year.

The food-service and catering company will align with Sun-owned restaurant concepts, including Fazoli’s, Bruegger’s and Sweet Tomatoes to gain national buying power and add recognized brands to its operations, which include event catering and food management at venues such as museums, arenas and zoos.

A Florida-based private equity firm acquired locally based Marsh Supermarkets Inc. in 2006.

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