Fresh Face at Fresh Market

Larry Appel is named CEO at The Fresh Market as the chain realigns stores and expands private label to capture mainstream shoppers. David Merrefield reports.

David Merrefield
Fresh Face at Fresh Market
October 2017
 
The Fresh Market has a new president and CEO. He is Larry Appel, a veteran of more than 30 years in various forms of retailing. His career has focused on retail, legal and strategic planning.  
 
And, as we’ll see, he plans to infuse Fresh Market with a suite of strategies intended to give new direction to the specialty food retailer which, in recent years, has been trimming its far-flung store network toward its home base of North Carolina. 
 
But first, let’s take a look at Appel’s background: A lawyer by training, his resume includes several years at Winn-Dixie in a variety of high-level positions, including chief operations officer. After leaving Winn-Dixie five years ago, he became CEO of Skeeter Snacks, a producer of natural snacks. He has also held high-level executive positions at Home Depot. 
 
It seems that Appel might be just the executive Fresh Market needs to give it new direction. 
 
Fresh Market was founded in 1982 in Greensboro, North Carolina, and for many years was among the fastest-growing food retailers around. 
 
It thinly spread a good number of stores from coast-to-coast. Then, Fresh Market started to face the same headwinds that have buffeted many specialty food retailers — up to and including Whole Foods. Those headwinds are the new ability of numerous conventional supermarkets to replicate specialty stores’ product lines, often as lower-cost store brands.  
 
During the last couple of years, Fresh Markets closed roughly 30 stores. In 2016, it consolidated wholesale deliveries by signing Supervalu to become its primary distributor.
 
Yet, despite the changes, Fresh Market remains a formidable retailer with176 stores in 24 states. 
 
So, what does Appel intend to do to bolster Fresh Market’s fortunes?
 
According to published reports, Appel has acknowledged that Fresh Market can’t be a low-cost provider across all product lines. His plan appears to remain price competitive on grocery staples, but otherwise show consumers that there’s non-price value in well-curated and high-quality, private-label and specialty lines, especially perishables.
 
Indeed, the retailer does have a formidable namesake store brand at its disposal. The Fresh Market label spans almost all categories. The Fresh Market keeps up with trends too, featuring many new items.
 
It seems that Appel has the right tools in place for a specialty retailer such as Fresh Marke.
 
If Appel can balance and achieve those goals, he may produce a winner, despite the proliferation of competitive formats in the Southeast and elsewhere in its operating territory. 
 
For PLMA Live, this is David Merrefield.
 
PLMALive! Archives:
the Best of the Year Past
A Lidl Help for Save-A-Lot

Two former Lidl executives now head up discounter Save-A-Lot, as the chain looks to its future in the U.S. David Merrefield explains.

Helping Disabled Shoppers

Some 56 million Americans are disabled, but they still have to shop. How are retailers accommodating their needs? Brad Edmondson profiles some solutions.

Deflation’s Impact

The past 18 months have been tough on all retailers due to deflation, which lowered prices and depressed margins. Is the end in sight? Roy White analyzes the situation.

IKEA’s Food Sales

Home goods chain IKEA might be famous for its furniture, but it sells more than 150 private-label food products. Christopher Durham has the details.

Big Changes Ahead

Bahige El-Rayes of A.T. Kearney foresees significant shifts in the way retailers and manufacturers work together. Store brands will play an important role as retailers look to differentiate themselves.

Inside the Amazon Merger

Is Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods a game changer or more of the same? PLMA Live goes inside the takeover and analyzes its real impact on national and regional chains and direct-to-consumer services. What are the numbers? Will private label get a huge push forward? Is this the wave of the future? Join news anchor Jodi Daley and PLMA president Brian Sharoff as they dissect the deal of the year.

In The Stores, On The Shelves - July

In this month's edition, Walgreens updates its Nice! brand; Supervalu expands Culinary Circle; Trader Joe's can’t keep its new canned wines in stock; and other timely updates from Target, Family Dollar and Stew Leonard’s. Click here for video

Time To Get Serious Again

Summer is almost over. Time to check PLMA’s autumn programs. PLMA’s Washington Conference October 2-3. For details of upcoming events and a preview of this year’s Chicago trade show.

Private Label, European Style

European retailers are having a big impact in the U.S. Euromonitor International's Alexander Kottke, explains how they use private label to build consumer loyalty.

What’s 5 Below?

As a chain of more than 500 stores in the Eastern U.S., 5 Below is a hit with young people for its eclectic, fast-changing selection of goods, most costing under $5. Roy White reports.

Health as Status Symbol

Healthy living is developing into a “status” culture and food is  a big part of the trend. Dr. Kantha Shelke analyzes the trend.

Is There A Trump Consumer?

Everyone now knows that there are Trump voters. But are there Trump consumers? Brad Edmondson analyzes the link between the voting booth and the supermarket.