- The Fresh Market announced Rick Anicetti has resigned as company CEO, according to a release. No reason was given for his departure.
- The company’s chief financial officer, Brian Nicholson, will immediately assume the CEO role on an interim basis.
- “Along with Mr. Nicholson, The Fresh Market’s current senior leadership team will continue to execute the company’s strategic plan and adapt as needed to the evolving marketplace,” The Fresh Market said in the release.
Like many specialty grocers, The Fresh Market has had its fair share of ups and downs during the past decade.
Founded by Rick and Beverly Berry in 1982, the company rose to prominence as a pioneer in the natural and organic industry and in 2010 went public. But the chain struggled against Whole Foods at the high end, and felt the pressure from Walmart at the low end. As mainstream grocers such as Kroger began to offer competitively priced natural and organic products, The Fresh Market saw its market share erode.
By 2015, the retailer was over-stored and its products overpriced. In September of that year, The Fresh Market hired Anicetti to replace former CEO Sean Crane. Anicetti, who had spent thirty years with Delhaize, most recently as the CEO of Food Lion, went to work positioning the company as a more budget-friendly destination.
Just six months after Anicetti took the helm, private equity firm Apollo Global Management bought The Fresh Market for $1.32 billion. Under new management, Anicetti and his tem began remodeling stores and investing in further price reductions. Last October, the company opened its first updated stores, which included twice the number of aisles as a typical store, reconfigured center store sets, lower prices and an infusion of more than 1,300 everyday products.
Apollo, which has closed a handful of stores during Anicetti’s tenure, wants to get The Fresh Market running as efficiently and profitably as possible in what’s become a very competitive East Coast market. But like Whole Foods, the retailer must walk a difficult line between retaining its gourmet and natural appeal while also attracting a broader audience. Much will depend on the company’s new store formats, hatched under Anicetti’s watch, that are being rolled out across The Fresh Market’s 174 stores.