Florida stores safe as The Fresh Market closes 15 locations

Fresh Market at 2900 4th St. N, St. Petersburg, Fla.,  Nov. 20, 2017. (CHERIE DIEZ   |   Times)
Fresh Market at 2900 4th St. N, St. Petersburg, Fla., Nov. 20, 2017. (CHERIE DIEZ | Times)
Published July 11 2018
Updated July 11 2018

The Fresh Market announced this week it will close 15 stores, but none of the affected locations are in Florida.

The gourmet grocery chain based in North Carolina entered the Tampa Bay market in the early 2000s and has grown to five locations in Pinellas and Hillsborough County. The grocery chain now has more than three dozen locations in Florida.

Supermarket space has only become more competitive since The Fresh Market started its Sunshine State expansion. Speciality markets and other grocery leaders such as Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods are continuing to expand across the country.

"Over the last eight months, our company has been executing a turnaround plan, and we’ve seen great progress," Fresh Market CEO Larry Appel said in a statement. "However, for a variety of reasons unique to each retail location, that progress is not evenly distributed and, as a result, we have decided to close these long-term underperforming stores."

Fresh Market announced it would be undergoing a financial review in 2015 after reports of declining sales. A year later, private equity firm Apollo Global Management bought the chain for $1.36 billion.

Among the closing stores are two locations in Georgia, four in Illinois, two in Virginia, and one in the grocer’s home state of North Carolina.

The 15 shuttering stores are expected to close in two to four weeks, according to the company.

"Looking ahead, I am confident this move will better position The Fresh Market and enable us to continue delivering our great-tasting meals, signature products and an incredible shopping experience," Appel said.

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Contact Sara DiNatale at sdinatale@tampabay.com. Follow @sara_dinatale.

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