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With loss of pharmacies, Marsh can no longer sell hard liquor

May 1, 2017

Marsh grocery stores that are losing their pharmacies are about to lose even more: their ability to sell hard liquor.

Locally-based Marsh Supermarkets told employees Friday morning that it will close all in-store pharmacies on Wednesday, as the struggling grocery chain cuts costs amid declining market share.

Marsh operates 37 pharmacies in its 64 stores, according to its website. As part of its decision to stop providing pharmacy services, the company has sold customer prescription accounts to Woonsocket, Rhode Island-based CVS.

But that means those stores can no longer carry hard liquor.

Under state law, only grocery stores with pharmacies can sell liquor, Heather L. Lynch, public information officer for the Indiana Excise Police, told IBJ.

So the stores that have had pharmacies are now offering big sales on bottles of tequila, whiskey and other spirits. Some brands were discounted as much as 40 percent at the Marsh store at 106th Street and Michigan Road in Carmel.

The loss of liquor sales—which can account for 2 percent to 3 percent of store revenue—could be a problem for Marsh, said grocery analyst David Livingston.

“They’re taking a nice hit,” Livingston said. “They’re obviously not looking long term.”

A Marsh spokesman didn’t immediately return a message seeking comment on the chain’s loss of liquor sales.

Marsh's internal announcement Friday to exit the pharmacy business comes after the grocery chain earlier this month said it would close more stores in May.

Marsh confirmed that it will close stores May 6 at 2135 N. Post Road in Indianapolis, at 1240 N State St. in Greenfield, and at 11865 Hamilton Ave. in Cincinnati.

Seven more are set to shut their doors on May 14, including three in Indianapolis, at 7481 Shadeland Ave., 6243 E. Washington St., and 5104 N. Franklin Road. Also closing on that date are Marsh stores in the Indiana cities of Frankfort, Logansport and Portland, and in Union City, Ohio.

Marsh said the stores were closing because of “sustained weak performance.” The company said it would work with employees at those stores who wished to transfer to another Marsh location.

All four of the Indianapolis stores that are closing are among those involved in lawsuits from landlords who say Marsh has stopped paying rent at those locations.

 

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