The Fresh Market to Focus on Increasing Existing Customer Frequency and Expanding Southeast Presence
GREENSBORO, NC - The Fresh Market held a key conference call with investors last Wednesday, October 9th, 2014. During the call, top level executives reinforced the company's commitment to doubling its store count in the American Southeast as well as a new plan to grow existing store sales through a concerted effort at increasing shopping frequency. Craig Carlock, President and CEO, opened the discussion with a statement conveying his optimism about the future of The Fresh Market.
“We are very well positioned for future growth because we deliver a differentiated shopping experience,” he shared with investors. “In our new markets, we have adjusted our operating procedures and grown our operating margins.”
Chris Miller, Vice President of Strategy and Marketing, shared how recent market research revealed significant opportunities for future growth in The Fresh Market's existing store-base.
“We believe firmly that the best growth opportunity for us is to increase existing customer frequency,” he said. “We learned that, on average, the majority of our customers shop us once per month. In fact, less than 2% of our customers shop us on a weekly basis. One more trip per year across these active customers would equate to a 13% increase in comparative transaction growth.”
Miller explained that a key way to make this transition from a special occasion destination to an everyday stop, lay in better communicating the core The Fresh Market value proposition and story.
The Fresh Market's executives are equally optimistic about the retailer's short-term expansion plans.
“Looking at our core markets, we are also excited about our opportunity to grow,” Carlock said. “Our white space analysis of the Southeast suggests that we can double our store base there because we are experiencing less cannibalization in these markets than previously expected.”
Randy Young, SVP Chief Merchandising & Supply Chain Officer, further explained The Fresh Market's plans going forward. While the retailer does have a multi-regional growth plan in place, its focus would remain principally on the Southeast throughout this process, he shared.
“Our three year plan consists of opening at least 70 new stores, something which should translate into an annual growth rate of 12-15%,” Young said. “Our plan is to leverage our strength in the Southeast by opening at least 50% of our mix in that region alone.”
According to Young, by 2017, The Fresh Market will have 60-65% of all of its stores located in the Southeast.
With such a strong plan in place, I can certainly understand Carlock's optimism about The Fresh Market's future. I look forward to seeing how the company preforms as we move into Winter and the new year.