Monday, March 14, 2016

The Fresh Market Sells — But Not to Kroger

The company that owns Hostess Brands is the unexpected buyer.

Posted By on Mon, Mar 14, 2016 at 11:21 AM

As grocery-obsessed Richmonders contemplate what would happen if Kroger bought the Fresh Market, given the local stores' proximity to each other, that prospect has been permanently shelved.

Instead of accepting the grocery giant’s offer — if indeed, one was even proffered — the Fresh Market decided to go with investment firm Apollo Global Management, in a $1.36 billion deal announced today.

Apollo also owns Sprouts Farmers Market, a similar grocery chain that operates mostly in the Southwest, plus Hostess Brands and General Nutrition Centers (GNC), among other investments.

“We are delighted about this transaction with the Fresh Market, which was one of the early pioneers in small-box grocery, offering unique, delicious and healthy food with a keen focus on perishables,” said Andrew S. Jhawar, senior partner and head of the Retail and Consumer Group at Apollo in a news release.

What does this mean for grocery stores in the Richmond area? Instead of consolidation and all of its interesting implications, the highly charged, cutthroat market will keep booming along. We still have the disruption of Wegmans to look forward to this year, and a second, downtown location of Whole Foods in 2017, plus the entry of Publix in 2018.

The fun isn’t going to stop, it seems, any time soon.

CORRECTION: This article originally stated that the sale would be a $1.36 million deal instead of a $1.36 billion deal.

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