Scott Nishimura email@example.com
Fresh Market announced plans for its first Tarrant County grocery store, saying it has signed a lease for a location at Southlake Boulevard and South Carroll Avenue in Southlake. Fresh Market said it expected to open the store this fall. It will be the chain’s third in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, following previously announced new locations at the Turtle Creek Village and Arboretum Village centers in Dallas, both of which are set to open this year or next.
Fresh Market, based in Greensboro, N.C., has been widely expected in local real estate circles to announce more store openings in Tarrant County. Those three may be the chain’s only 2014 North Texas openings. In releasing its fourth-quarter earnings March 6, CEO Craig Carlock said the company’s nine new California and Houston stores had been a drag on earnings, and the company expects to refocus its new store plan on locations “east of the Mississippi.” Carlock told analysts and reporters that the company expected to open 23-25 stores in 2014, including “four to five…planned for California and Texas.”
For 2014, Carlock said the company planned three store openings in the “Dallas-Fort Worth area,” one in suburban Houston, and another in Laguna Hills, Calif. The company, in its separate Southlake announcement this week, identified the location as “Dallas metro.” “Each of these deals was struck in 2012, but we remain comfortable with the characteristics of these sites and the analysis that led to their selection,” Carlock said. Those leases are “not similiar in structure or cost” to the company’s nine new California and Houston stores – Fresh Market opened four stores in Houston last summer – that were a 7.5-cent-per-share drag on earnings per share in the fourth quarter, Carlock added. Two of the Houston stores are too close to each other, and the company’s saturation and brand awareness blitz didn’t fare as well as hoped with consumers, Carlock said. Fresh Market, publicly traded, reported earnings per share of 4 cents in the fourth quarter, and 43 cents for the same quarter a year earlier.
The company last August announced it planned to open stores in Dallas’ Turtle Creek and Arboretum areas, and said then they would open in “late 2014 or early 2015.” In this week’s Southlake announcement, it said the Southlake store, “once opened…will be the company’s third store in the Dallas area, following previously announced stores in the Turtle Creek Village shopping center and the Arboretum Village shopping center.” The company said during its earnings release that it planned to close three Sacramento stores and one of its Houston stores. Carlock said the company’s “core business,” which he identified as largely east of the Mississippi River, “continues to perform well.” Seven of the company’s 2014 openings will be in Florida, he said.
“Despite meaningful headwinds from a more cautious consumer, condensed holiday calendar, and harsh winter weather, we achieved a comparable store sales of increase of 3.1 percent in the fourth quarter.” Comparable store sales are those for stores open at least a year. an industry benchmark. Under the company’s refocused plan, “new stores will be concentrated in the company’s core geographies, while only seven to eight will open in newer markets, four to five of which are planned for California and Texas,” Carlock said. The company reported it made a $50.8 million net profit for 2013, which ended Jan 26 this year, compared to a $64.1 million net profit the prior year. The 2013 results included $27.5 million in one-time asset writedowns. Fresh Market reported $1.5 billion in sales for 2013, compared to $1.3 billion for 2013. The Fresh Market operates 155 stores in 26 states.