Kroger lays out plans for 11 former Marsh grocery stores

Kroger Co. has finalized its purchase of 11 former Marsh Supermarkets stores and says it will spend $20 million to renovate and reopen seven of them.

Cincinnati-based Kroger Co. and Fresh Encounter Inc., another Ohio-based grocery, last month agreed to buy 26 Marsh stores for a total of $24 million.

Fishers-based Marsh, which declared bankruptcy May 11, sold the 26 stores and closed dozens of others before going out of business this month.

Kroger said Wednesday that it will first focus on reopening seven stores; the future of the four others is still being determined.

The seven stores set to reopen:

• 843 E. Main St., Brownsburg
• 227 W. Michigan St., downtown Indianapolis
• 10679 N. Michigan Road, Zionsville
• 5 Boone Village, Zionsville
• 1500 W. McGalliard Road, Muncie
• 715 Tillotson Ave., Muncie
• 1825 Kinser Pike, Bloomington

The four with uncertain futures:

• 12520 E. 116th St., Fishers
• 2904 South Indiana 135, Greenwood
• 1435 W. 86th St., Indianapolis
• 123 S. Kingston Drive, Bloomington

Kroger did not say when the seven stores would reopen. Fives stores will reopen under the Kroger brand. The two stores in Muncie will operate under Kroger’s Pay Less banner, like locations in Anderson, Lafayette and West Lafayette do.

Real estate experts say Kroger might not reopen some of the stores where it has nearby locations. For instance, Kroger operates a store about a mile west of the West 86th Street store, at 86th Street and Township Line Road.

“We understand the excitement that comes with anticipation of a new neighborhood Kroger store,” Kroger said in a written statement. “But reopening is not as simple as taking possession of a building and turning the lights back on.”

A traditional renovation might take six to eight months, Kroger said, but that timeline could be accelerated because the stores are empty.

Kroger entity Topvalco Inc. spent $16 million to acquire the 11 stores, and Findlay, Ohio-based Fresh Encounter’s Generative Growth II LLC entity spent $8 million to buy 15 stores.

Fresh Encounter’s acquisitions from Marsh include 11 in Indiana, including one in downtown Indianapolis near Massachusetts Avenue and four in Ohio. Plans for the stores remain unclear. A Fresh Encounter executive didn’t return phone calls from IBJ inquiring about the grocer's plans.

Kroger, with 2,800 locations nationwide, already has a huge presence in the Indianapolis area. In 2015, the company announced a wide-ranging plan to beef up its operations in central Indiana, including creating or remodeling dozens of stores, establishing a regional training center, and creating an estimated 3,440 jobs.  

The company said it has hired “several hundred” former Marsh employees who are undergoing training or working at other stores and expects to hire even more.

Also, one of the 18 Marsh stores that didn’t get purchased will operate as a Safeway. The small, local chain has agreed to buy the lease of the location at 1815 Albany St. in Beech Grove.

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