- Fresh Thyme Farmers Market has announced changes to its executive leadership, according to a company press release. Dean Little has been promoted to Chief Operating Officer and Tod Pepin has joined the company as Chief Merchandising Officer.
- Little has been with Fresh Thyme since 2017 and has overseen store operations, new store development, asset protection and food safety. In his expanded role, he will take on the added responsibility of managing real estate, construction and distribution center operations.
- Pepin brings 25 years of experience in merchandising to the company, previously holding executive roles at both Meijer and Delhaize America. In his new role, he will oversee Fresh Thyme’s merchandising, marketing and pricing.
Fresh Thyme reported 19.8% growth for 2018 and has been expanding its store footprint and product lines. Last year the company increased its store count to 75, with additional openings planned for this year. The natural grocer has also bolstered its line of private label offerings and has partnered with Instacart to provide customers home delivery.
With the ongoing expansion of Aldi and Hy-Vee in the Midwest, and with more traditional grocers moving toward natural and organic offerings, strong leadership will be integral to Fresh Thyme's continued success.
Pepin's background in merchandising, private label and category management should help the Meijer-backed company hone its focus on private label offerings and improved product assortment. Some of that focus will be on maintaining its reputation for fresh and local products. Fresh Thyme was recently spotlighted by Consumer Reports as a retailer that excels in produce quality, which included its variety of locally sourced products.
Fresh Thyme has been successful in sticking with its core values of fresh, local food, and it sets its stores apart with a fun shopping experience. The grocer has also dabbled in some creative merchandising to help draw customers into its stores. Last fall, Fresh Thyme launched a line of state-inspired canvas shopping bags with a nod to the six states where the grocer operates.