Last year the Fresh Market had said it was considering strategic options, including a possible sale, and more recently published reports suggested that Kroger Co. was seeking to buy the specialty grocery chain, which has struggled in recent years.
“We are excited about this transaction with Apollo, which recognizes the value of The Fresh Market’s strong brand and significant growth prospects while providing stockholders with an immediate and substantial premium,” said Rick Anicetti, president and chief executive officer of the Fresh Market. “Apollo is a highly-regarded investor, bringing deep industry expertise and financial resources, and we look forward to working with them to build on our progress in achieving our strategic plan to deliver long-term profitable growth.”
Anicetti joined the Fresh Market in September; before that he spent more than 30 years in the supermarket industry, including serving for eight years as president and CEO of the Food Lion grocery chain.
“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. “We believe there is a significant opportunity to enhance the brand, merchandise offering and price-value combination to make The Fresh Market a primary destination for food shoppers, while at the same time being committed to social responsibility through partnerships with local vendors and communities. Our team at Apollo has had the tremendous fortune of having executed transactions in several consumables retailers and brands — such as Sprouts Farmers Market, Smart & Final, Hostess Brands and General Nutrition Centers, among others — that have undergone significant transformations under our strategic guidance and we intend to bring that experience to bear at The Fresh Market. We look forward to partnering with Ray Berry, Brett Berry and George Golleher, and beginning our discussions with the executive management team and the over 13,000 team members at The Fresh Market so that we can assist the company in delivering the most inspiring and engaging food shopping experience in the industry with best-in-class customer service.”
The transaction is expected to close in the second quarter of this year, pending regulatory approval and other closing conditions.