The Fresh Market Inc., a specialty food retailer headquartered in Greensboro, N.C., has entered into agreements to lease four new store locations that are currently operated as Rice Epicurean Markets, a family-owned specialty food retailer based in Houston, Texas. The terms of the agreements are not being disclosed.
Rice Epicurean Markets will continue to operate the stores through the end of the year, and will close these four stores during the first quarter of 2013. A fifth Rice Epicurean location on Fountain View in the Briargrove neighborhood of Houston is not subject to the transaction and will continue to operate under the Rice Epicurean Markets name.
The Fresh Market’s four new locations will be in the Uptown/Tanglewood, Memorial, River Oaks and West University areas of Houston. Entities related to the families that own Rice Epicurean Markets will continue their relationship with the community as landlords at three of The Fresh Market’s new locations. In addition, there will be incremental space at these Rice Epicurean Markets locations for complementary tenants to add further customer excitement to these shopping centers, according to a news release.
The Fresh Market intends to remodel each location and currently expects to open its four new stores in the latter half of fiscal 2013.
“Our family established our retail grocery business in Houston, Texas, 75 years ago and we are proud of Rice Epicurean Market’s many years of service to the community,” said company spokesman Bruce Levy. “We are excited to welcome The Fresh Market to the Houston metropolitan area and to introduce their concept to our customers and neighbors. We believe their stores will be an excellent fit in this market.”
“We are excited to expand into Texas, and into Houston in particular,” said Craig Carlock, The Fresh Market’s president and CEO. “We look forward to introducing The Fresh Market’s concept of quality perishable food, excellent customer service and unique shopping atmosphere to a new set of customers, and we look forward to offering our new neighbors a distinctive food shopping experience, one that we think cannot be beaten.”
The Fresh Market also looks forward to becoming an active member of the
Houston community. Each of the company’s stores will be staffed by approximately 90 people, most of whom will be hired locally, and the current employees of Rice Epicurean Markets will be encouraged to apply or positions at The Fresh Market stores as part of its new store opening process.