- The Fresh Market has named Mary Kellmanson as its new chief marketing officer, according to a company news release.
- Kellmanson began her career at Wegmans, where she served as vice president of marketing and advertising, then moved on Winn-Dixie Stores, where she was senior vice president of marketing. Most recently, Kellmanson served as chief marketing officer of Skeeter Snacks, a nut-free snack maker.
- In her new role, Kellmanson will oversee The Fresh Market’s marketing and brand strategy, along with its public relations and communications. “I am confident that her results-oriented approach and insight into food retailing will put her in a strong position to assess and optimize The Fresh Market’s programs,” Larry Appel, president and CEO of Fresh Market, said in the release.
Kellmanson hails from the same snack company that Larry Appel, who was named CEO of The Fresh Market this fall, oversaw. The two also held leadership positions at Winn-Dixie at the same time, indicating Appel and The Fresh Market have hired someone whose work is well known to him.
The Fresh Market certainly has its work cut out for it. After quickly growing to more than 150 stores across two dozen states, the small-box specialty grocer is struggling to stand out on both assortment and pricing in competitive markets throughout the eastern U.S.
Under Rick Anicetti, the retailer’s former CEO, who left for undisclosed reasons back in June, The Fresh Market focused less on expanding its specialty offerings and more on lowering prices and offering a wider grocery selection. The company also launched a store remodeling campaign, which is ongoing and includes an expanded center store section with more everyday item — including household and baby products. The company is also reinforcing its natural and organic image with more locally sourced products, prepared foods and health market selections.
The Fresh Market, which was acquired by Apollo Global Management early last year, began its remodels last October, and is slowly spreading them across the chain. At the same time, the company is closing poor performing stores situated in highly competitive areas. Earlier this year, The Fresh Market closed five stores. Last year, it closed 18, including all of its locations in Texas, Missouri, Iowa and Kansas.
Reports indicate that the natural and organic grocer’s strategy is failing to gain traction. Moody’s downgraded The Fresh Market’s corporate family credit rating in October to Caa1 (very high credit risk) from its previous B3 rating, citing a negative outlook for the chain.
As The Fresh Market works to bolster its specialty image, while at the same time addressing pricing and assortment, its competitors continue to evolve. Chief among them is Whole Foods, which has rolled out its own very popular discounts under Amazon’s ownership — a threat to The Fresh Market and the broader natural grocery category.