Marsh Intends to Sell

Apr 21, 2006
George Anderson

By George Anderson

Marsh Supermarkets has signed a letter of intent to sell its business to an affiliate of Sun Capital Partners in a deal worth $88 million in cash.

“We are excited about this opportunity and look forward to moving quickly to conclude a definitive merger agreement with the company,” Gary Talarico, managing director of Sun Capital Partners, said in a released statement posted on the Marsh web site.

Marsh has agreed not to solicit any other bids for the chain prior to May 11. There was no announcement as to what would happen if that deadline were missed.

Marsh hired Merrill Lynch in November to help it explore strategic options for the chain. The company has cited competition with larger competitors, such as Wal-Mart Supercenters, for recent weak performance.

Mr. Talarico expressed confidence in Marsh’s ability to compete under Sun Capital’s ownership.

“We are enthusiastic about Marsh’s dominance in its core markets and look forward to working with the management team and employees of the Company to continue to deliver excellent value to customers and the communities that Marsh serves,” he said.

The proposed deal for Marsh continues the recent trend of investment groups making acquisitions in the grocery channel. In January, Reuters reports, Albertsons agreed to sell off its business to an investment group including Supervalu and CVS.

Other recent deals include Marks & Spencer selling Kings Super Markets to an investor group including Angelo, Gordon & Co., MTN Capital Partners LLC and Bruce Weitz. Foodarama Supermarkets Inc., which operates ShopRite stores New Jersey, agreed to be purchased by Saker Holdings Corp.

Analysts have also recently speculated that A&P may be considering a bid for Pathmark Stores. 

Moderator’s Comment: What will a sale of Marsh to Sun Capital Partners mean for the grocery chain’s business? What
other grocery chains do you think are most likely to be “for sale” in the near future?

George Anderson – Moderator

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5 Comments on "Marsh Intends to Sell"

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Mark Heckman
14 years 10 months ago
As a former executive of Marsh (20 years in operations and marketing and director of Research), I am really saddened that Marsh evolved to the position of needing to sell under duress. The $88 million, (the bid price) is far below where the company’s market value would have been just a few years ago, but market conditions and a few questionable expansion decisions combined to put this noble chain in peril. I truly respect the many great people that are still working hard there to make it work, but the track record of Sun Capital and others like them does not bode well for those in key executive positions. Further, if this deal happens (there is a May 11th deadline for Sun to move forward), Marsh will not just be run as a leaner and meaner operation, but chunks of the company will be sold or closed over time. While the Marsh name still has tremendous marketplace “brand equity,” to truly leverage this, the core banner must emerge as a service-oriented, quality operation. Anything short… Read more »
Mark Lilien
14 years 10 months ago

Sun Capital owns Mervyns, Pamida, Bachrach, Rag Shop, and other businesses, many of whom aren’t retailers. Several years ago, Sun agreed to buy Lechters Housewares, subject to due diligence, but the deal blew up and Lechters was eventually dissolved. There’s money to be made buying troubled retailers, and Sun certainly has that expertise. I assume that the May 11 deadline gives Sun time to complete its due diligence. Marsh stock was selling for more than $12 only a few months ago, but it went to $7 more recently. So this may be the best deal possible for Marsh shareholders.

David Livingston
14 years 10 months ago

Sun Capital might make out well but I doubt the stores will survive. Marsh was unable to sell to another retailer. Indianapolis is a very competitive battlefield. Marsh, with limited resources, must compete against Kroger, Wal-Mart Supercenter, Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market, Meijer, Super Target, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Fresh Markets, Sunflower, Aldi, and Costco. There does not appear to be an upside. None of the above will permit Marsh to take market share from them.

The easiest way to predict the next chain to sell out is to find chains that consistently have sales per square foot performances 10% to 40% below average in the market they compete in. This would include many divisions of Safeway, recently acquired Albertsons stores, perhaps Rainbow in the Twin Cities, almost any division of A&P, some divisions of Ahold, Ingles, Weis Markets, Winn-Dixie, Penn Traffic and Nash Finch corporate stores, to name a few.

Ryan Mathews
14 years 10 months ago

I think Sun stole the company. True, Marsh has made some questionable decisions and the market is competitive, but I still think its value ought to have been a bit higher. As to what happens to the stores, I’d look for a “bust out” — supermarkets going one way, c-stores another. Will they survive? Don’t think that will make any difference to Sun as long as there is a payday involved.

Stephan Kouzomis
Stephan Kouzomis
14 years 10 months ago

Without knowing if certain Marsh executives are staying on Marsh has proven to be a leader in the evolving Grocery Industry. This is a major strategic and forward thinking leader in marketing; creating knew concept layouts; testing floral and butcher cut meat shops; and offering its shoppers a distinct shopping experience form the local competitors.

Who knows what the Marsh family does, or enters into next. My hats off to Marsh for breaking out of the grocery mindset and antiquated practices, to set the right course in its
marketing areas. Hmmmmmmmm


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