- The Fresh Market has hired Dan Portnoy as its new chief merchandising officer, reporting directly to president and CEO Larry Appel, according to a company press release.
- Portnoy brings more than 35 years of experience in food retail merchandising and marketing to the role. He previously held positions as chief merchandising and marketing officer at Winn-Dixie Stores and president and CEO of Kings Food Markets/Balducci’s Markets.
- In his role, Portnoy will also oversee The Fresh Market’s group of merchandising directors. "With Dan at the helm of our merchandising team, I am confident that we will achieve our vision of being the premier fresh-focused specialty food retailer," Appel said in the release.
Portnoy has also served in leadership roles at Cott Corporation and Daymon Worldwide. His background with specialty brands and marketing should provide strong leadership as the company continues to develop new, creative products and maintain a high-quality inventory to stand out from its competitors.
The hiring comes at a time when North Carolina-based The Fresh Market is struggling to improve its financial performance after being listed several times on Moody’s distressed list. When CEO Appel took his post in 2017, he made returning to the store’s roots as a specialty grocer a priority. He closed stores that weren’t successful and cut back on plans for new outposts.
The company has also emphasized its focus on expanded store selection and locally sourced and healthy foods. Appel also made several new hires including Mary Kellmanson as CMO and Chris Himebauch as SVO and chief Human Resources Officer.
Last month, Moody’s said those initiatives were beginning to boost the company’s financial performance and gave it a "stable" rating, up from "negative." However, the grocer is still listed as Caa2, which means The Fresh Market is "judged to be of poor standing and subject to very high credit risk." Moody’s attributes the rating to increased competition in the Southeast as well as the company’s small scale and unstable capital structure.
The Fresh Market recently announced it will be adding new items to and creating new packaging for its private-label lines, Everyday Extraordinary and Signature. It also rolled out more than 60 pumpkin-flavored items to appeal to shoppers during the fall season, with plans to introduce unique holiday products in the next few months. Seasonal items have shown to be successful for many retailers, including Aldi’s Oktoberfest line and H-E-B’s seasonal cookies, as a way to draw attention to their private label products.