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Mars Super Markets is closing two of its three grocery stores in Maryland's Harford County, along with two other locations in the state's Anne Arundel and Baltimore counties.
Of the Harford County stores, the Bel Air location will shut its doors on Jan. 25, while the rest of the supermarkets are slated to close around May 1, according to a published report, in which Mars Chairman and CEO Chris D'Anna attributed the move to "ever-increasing competition in the grocery business." He added that the Rosedale, Md.-based grocery chain's 13 other stores, all in central Maryland, would remain open.
"Mars entered a highly competitive area when they opened stores in Harford County a few years ago," industry observer Jeremy Diamond, director of Baltimore-based Diamond Marketing Group, told Progressive Grocer. "Klein's ShopRite has a dominant position in Harford County as a homegrown chain that began with Maurice Klein in the 1920s. Walmart opened up recently in Harford County, with an expanded grocery department, and has been taking market share out there as well."
Added Diamond: "Mars … will excel as a family-run chain in their local neighborhoods. Having stretched out to Harford County with only [three] stores, they never had enough market penetration with the Harford County shoppers."
As for the remaining Harford County Mars location, in Edgewood, he offered the opinion that it "was experiencing the same fierce competition" as the closing stores, noting that it had "recently switched from self-distributing to outsourcing with Bozzuto's in an effort to cut costs and increase buying power."
Recalling that "Mars was testing the waters a few years ago for potential buyers for the company," Diamond observed, "Maybe the D'Anna family should have accepted a buyout."