Lebanon Reporter

January 10, 2014

Lebanon's MainStreet Market will close this month

By Rod Rose and Sarah Lang The Lebanon Reporter
Lebanon Reporter

---- — Lebanon — Lebanon’s MainStreet Market, 2250 N. Lebanon St., will close by the end of the month.

MainStreet Market is a subsidiary brand of Marsh, which is owned by Sun Capital Partners, Inc., Boca Raton, Fla.A manager at the Lebanon store referred comment to Marsh’s corporate headquarters in Indianapolis. Connie Gardner, Marsh’s senior director of community relations, emailed a press release in response to a telephone call seeking comment.

In the release, Marsh said a lack of customers and expiring building leases were factors in the shut-down decision.“Customers have spoken and we are reacting to the realities of the markets and making difficult decisions to address the long-term health of the company,” the Marsh press release said.

Employees who are not offered jobs elsewhere with the company “will have a severance package,” the release said.

Two stores in Indianapolis as well as stores in Franklin, Muncie, Speedway, and one in Franklin, Ohio, will also be closed, according to the release.

Joni Ping, of Lebanon, said she was disappointed to hear the news of the store’s closure when she walked into the store Thursday afternoon. Employees were informing all of the customers.“I shop here at least once a week,” she said. “I’m sad to see it go.”In its place, Ping said she may start shopping at Meijer, especially once the one at Anson opens.

Sonny Parker, of Frankfort, said the store is full of great people. The baggers help customers outside, and the employees are always pleasant.“This store in particular, the people are always the friendliest,” he said. “If you walk in there, you’ll see a smile. And you don’t get customer service like that at the bigger stores.”Though Parker lives in Frankfort, he is often in Lebanon because his wife works in the city. But he said he can start shopping at the Marsh in Frankfort again. The loss will hurt Lebanon, he added, because there will be less competition.“I get it, times are hard. I understand, but it’s just a shame,” he said. “You can’t ask for a better managed store or for better people.”According to the Marsh release, the closures are “the first part of a three-year plan we are implementing this year to position Marsh Supermarkets for growth and profitability.” All stores will carry the Marsh name. Existing stores will be remodeled, while the company will “seek opportunities to build new stores in new or existing markets,” the release said.

There was no mention whether Lebanon was one of those “new or existing markets.”“Luckily, Lebanon does have a pretty good mix of grocery stores,” said Bryan Brackemyre, director of the Boone County Economic Development Corp. “I think it’s sad to see Marsh ... close our store here.”“Hopefully, other stores like Aldi’s, IGA, Walmart and Kroger will see this as a better way to serve the market,” he said.

The opening of a massive Meijer supermarket in Whitestown this summer is likely another factor in Marsh’s decision to close the Lebanon store, Brackemyre said.“Looking at the trends in population growth, while historically Boone County is growing, Lebanon has been stagnant the last 10 to 15 years,” he said. “Rooftops are vital to their success; they need to attract people to sell their goods.”Lebanon has grown by only about 1,000 people over the past decade, Mayor Huck Lewis said. “We’ve grown, but it hasn’t been huge.” Walmart’s super center, which sells groceries, may have affected MainStreet Market’s revenue, Lewis said.

He understood Marsh’s decision to close, but was saddened.“I’m sorry they’re going to close,” he said. “I hope their employees can find work elsewhere.”“Maybe someone else will move into that building,” he said.

Sun Capital Partners bought the grocery chain from the Marsh family in 2006 for about $325 million. Sun Capital put the chain up for sale 2009, but took it off the market in 2010, according to Vault Career Intelligence, which reviews and ranks businesses and industries.

Although Marsh doesn’t reveal sales figures, Vault Career Intelligence estimated that the company’s sales had dropped about $300 million, to $1.2 billion, in fiscal 2012 compared to fiscal 2007.

Marsh has been shedding MainStreet Markets since the brand was launched in Indiana in July 2011. The MainStreet Markets name was a refinement of a two-brand strategy initiated by Marsh in 2006, when smaller stores were named Marsh Hometown Markets and larger stores were tagged Marsh the Marketplace.

The MainStreet Market brand was to “build on the foundation of local community involvement, fresh, high quality perishable products, fast and friendly service, fair pricing, and weekly specials on popular staple items.”MainStreet Market stores in Anderson, Greenwood and Martinsville were shuttered in summer 2012.

Marsh closed a MainStreet Market in Wabash in April 2012, and in 2011 closed stores in Rushville, Shelbyville and Connersville, the Indianapolis Business Journal reported in a July 10, 2012, story.WXIX-Channel 19 in Cincinnati reported in July 2013, that two MainStreet Markets in Fairfield and Hamilton would be closed because of expiring leases and shifts in population, among other factors.

Gardner told the station that “while the decision to close stores is never easy, the management team is committed to improving operating results and strengthening the company’s position in our marketing areas.”Sun Capital Partners describes itself as, “a pioneer in private equity investing, uniquely combining the financial skills and resources of a traditional private equity firm with the insight and expertise of a world class operating team.”