Pat and Bud Roche opened their first store in 1952 in Roslindale, Massachusetts, according to the Roche Bros. website. “This first meat and produce store expanded in 1957 to include a grocery department,” it reads.
Today, the neighborhood grocer has 16 Roche Bros. locations and four Brothers Marketplace banners in Massachusetts. The store is owned and operated by second-generation brothers Rick and Ed Roche.
“We are excited about being able to say that we’ve been servicing our communities for 70 years. And we strive to continue to do so – we’re still kind of in the work of how that anniversary celebration will come to life,” said Tristen Kendall-Barros, VP of marketing.
Kendall-Barros said they would like the celebration to focus around the support they’ve received from the community. The relationship between the grocer and the neighborhood has gone both ways in terms of service.
The store managers get involved in their communities specifically. But from a corporate level, the Roche Bros. marketing team tries to find opportunities where it can get involved in the communities in a bigger way.
“For instance, we partner with the Greater Boston Food Bank during the holiday timeframe and have a register drive across all of our store locations. They also have a partnership with Lovin’ Spoonfuls, which is a nonprofit organization that goes to a number of our store locations and takes food that is close to the end of its lifecycle and picks it up from our store locations and delivers it same day to people in need and who are food insecure – whether it’s to shelters or directly to those people to really make sure that we’re not wasting any food and really being sustainable,” Kendall-Barros said.
Roger Bowles, SVP of operations for Roche Bros., said business has been good for the grocer, especially now that COVID-19 restrictions have relaxed.
“It’s good to see our customers back in stores and seeing their smiles and being able to watch our associates provide real good service and not behind a plexiglass… From that standpoint, business has been very good. We certainly have a lot of lot going on with training – we’re able to bring training back and things that we were just not able to do over the last two years,” he said.
The supply chain has been a roller coaster over the last few years, but Bowles is seeing some improvement.
“We’re seeing categories that we offer come back online. We still have some other categories, like pet food, that’s still a big challenge for us. And so certainly, with inflation and driver shortages, and all the things that are happening today…it’s still very much moving, it’s very active,” he said.
Bowles said they are also paying more attention to local options.
“We spent a lot of time also looking at our local market and looking at local vendors and purveyors that are right in our backdoor that we can help, secure product from so we’re not so dependent on trucks coming from the West Coast or coming from the south,” Bowles said. “Our buyers and our directors do a very good job of evaluating all the logistics when it comes to supply chain.”
Roche Bros. continues to focus on revitalizing its brands with its current stores. A new store also opened in April 2021 in Watertown, Massachusetts, which serves more as a flagship location.
It includes a café where patrons can get coffee, smoothies, breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Roche Bros. stores are mainly in suburban and urban locations with sufficient competition from corporate chains and independents, as well.
Kendall-Barros said the Roche Bros. key differentiation is within its perishable foods. The culture of high-quality foods can be seen in seafood, meat and produce departments.
From a produce standpoint, Roche Bros. ensures the shortest time from farm to shelf; this is possible because it doesn’t have distribution centers.
“When our buyers are purchasing produce from the local produce market, it goes directly from the produce market to our shelves with a number of quality checks in between to ensure that they have the highest quality product on the shelf for a consumer with the longest shelf life,” Kendall-Barros said.
Roche Bros. has its own white label e-commerce, where its store teams pick products for consumers. In addition, it’s opened up the options to customers by extending its services and reach through Instacart and Shipt.
Kendall-Barros has learned that many of their consumers have been satisfied with the store team selecting products.
“Because of our focus on quality, just having a quality product in the store to begin with…we also train our associates to pick produce when picking for the orders,” she said. “We’ve had a lot of comments saying that a lot of consumers who are shopping with us only go to us for that online delivery, because they trust us to pick the right product for them and the quality of product they would pick for themselves. I think that goes a long way.”
For more information on Roche Bros., visit rochebros.com.
Article written by Eric Pereira / content creator