Friday, May 27, 2016
Iconic, Independent Grocery Chain Will Close All Stores In Maryland
Mars Super Markets, a family-owned fixture in Baltimore’s grocery landscape since the 1940s, will close its stores this summer, laying off hundreds of employees amid declining sales and intense competition.
While Weis Markets agreed this week to buy five of the chain’s 13 stores, the eight remaining stores will close July 31, Rosedale-based Mars said Wednesday.
“As you all know, the company has been struggling with declining sales for several years,” Chris D’Anna, Mars chairman and CEO, wrote in a memo to employees obtained Wednesday by The Baltimore Sun. “We have tried cutting costs everywhere we can while preserving jobs and benefits, but it has not been enough.”
Competition is cutthroat in the razor-thin margin world of grocery sales, and analysts say Mars struggled to keep up with emerging trends.
“The industry has changed so much since 1943,” said Jeremy Diamond, director of food brokerage company the Diamond Marketing Group. “The grocers that don’t evolve and don’t change with the times won’t survive. You have to adapt and change, especially in the grocery industry.”
Analysts said the D’Anna family has been trying for some time to sell the chain founded by Joseph D’Anna in 1943, while cutting costs to keep its stores afloat. But the state of the company and the competitive environment left the company with no alternate course, D’Anna said in the memo.
Mars employs 1,102 people at its stores, including 519 at the locations in Arbutus, Carney, Dundalk and Essex that Weis is buying. Weis agreed to interview Mars employees for positions at the five stores and expects to hire most of them, said Kurt Schertle, Weis’ chief operating officer.
The chain’s remaining stores are in northeast Baltimore, Cockeysville, Edgewood, Ellicott City, Lutherville-Timonium, Rosedale, Reisterstown and Perry Hall.