- Roche Bros recently announced it will open its fourth Brothers Marketplace in summer 2019 in Cambridge, Mass., according to a company release. Local reports note that residents of Kendall Square, the neighborhood where the store will be located, have been calling for a supermarket for the past several years.
- At an estimated 19,000 square feet, the location is smaller than Roche Bros. supermarkets, but larger than other Brothers Marketplace locations. According to Cambridge Day, officials originally wanted a much smaller store, but the number of residential developments have grown significantly in recent years, and demand for a supermarket has spiked.
- Established in 2014, Brothers Marketplace locations feature a large assortment of grab-and-go foods along with fresh and local selections.
Like other grocers building small banner stores, Roche Bros. sees Brothers Marketplace as a way to reach younger, convenience-focused shoppers in population-dense markets.
Roche Bros., which operates 18 Roche Bros. stores and two Sudbury Farms locations in the Boston area, opened its first Brothers Marketplace stores in 2014 — one in Weston and one in Medfield, Mass. Earlier this year, citing the popularity of these first two locations, the company announced a third location to be built in Waltham, Mass. That store will open early next year.
A fourth Brothers Marketplace store is a further sign of confidence in the format. The 19,000-square-foot planned location is part of a mixed-use development in Cambridge's Kendall Square neighborhood. It's much bigger than the 4,300-square-foot store that city officials and representatives from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology originally envisioned. But the Kendall Square neighborhood has seen significant residential development in recent years as MIT has converted former parking garages into retail and living space.
The Brothers Marketplace expansion comes shortly after one of Roche’s main competitors, Ahold Delhaize, halted development of its small-format banner, BFresh. The grocery conglomerate, which operates three Bfresh stores in Massachusetts, planned to build three more locations in Philadelphia and had discussed nationwide ambitions in the past, but now says it will reevaluate the use of those sites and fold the existing stores into the Stop & Shop banner. Ahold gave no specific reason for the closure other than to say the format had provided the company with “key learnings.” Industry sources speculate competition played a role.
With shoppers making more quick trips and grocers eager to penetrate urban markets, small stores are in the ascendancy. Target is rapidly deploying smaller locations in cities across the country, with plans to have 100 in place within three years. Whole Foods continues to open 365 stores. Convenience stores have entered the fray, as well, with food-focused stores being developed by the likes of Sheetz and Wawa.
Roche Bros. will have to work hard to fend off these competitors, but so far it's off to a good start.