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Findlay, Ohio-based Fresh Encounter has inked a deal to acquire the 11-store Chief Super Market Inc., based in Definance, Ohio. The deal between the two Buckeye State grocers also includes Boots BBQ, Chief Kitchen and Chief Smokehouse. Fresh Encounter currently operates 25 stores in Ohio and Indiana under the Great Scot, Community Markets and Sack n’ Save banners.
Describing the acquisition as "transformative," Michael Needler, Jr., CEO and president of Fresh Encounter, said Chief's locations "will increase our retail footprint in Ohio, as well as onboard premier grocery retail locations into our operation. It is difficult to create a merger of this size in such close proximity and not overlap retail locations, but this is one of those rare instances when we can consolidate resources without sacrificing any retail operations.”
The deal is one of the largest mergers between two privately held supermarket companies in Ohio since 1997, when Fresh Encounter purchased Dayton-based Fulmer Supermarkets, according to Eric Anderson, who handles marketing for Fresh Encounter.
The stores will retain their current banners and the merged organization will employ more than 2,000 people.
Anderson told Progressive Grocer that Eric Hench and Stephanie Skylar, chairman and president/CEO of Chief Super Market, respectively, will be transitioning out of the new organization. "Consolidation of resources and personnel will be an ongoing process as we move forward," Anderson added.
“Fresh Encounter is an obvious succession plan for our organization," said Skylar. "We have been colleagues for many years and respect their approach to the challenging, yet rewarding, grocery business. We look forward to watching the combined organizations continue to grow and prosper."