Mrs. Green’s Natural Market is closing three locations and temporarily shutting down another as the company said it is narrowing its focus to smaller stores in the Northeast.
At the same time, its remaining Northeast stores are struggling to keep shelves stocked, citing “significant product delivery challenges.” A company spokesperson, however, said the two issues are unrelated.
Two of the store closings stem from an attempted expansion into the Chicago market.
Irvington-based Natural Markets Food Group, Mrs. Green’s parent company, closed a store in Winnetka, Illinois, on Oct. 16 that opened in January. A second Chicago area location that the company had closed for renovations last year will not reopen. A store in West Windsor, New Jersey, that launched in 2014, will also close.
In Connecticut, a New Canaan location is expected to close for six months on Oct. 31, a company representative told the New Canaan Advertiser.
Natural Markets Food Group CEO Pat Brown in a press release said, “Mrs. Green’s will continue to focus our resources on the Northeast market and provide our customers with both healthy-living opportunities and the highest-quality local and organic products.”
Supply shortages have resulted in signs being posted at entrances to stores in Westchester, Manhattan and Connecticut. At its Rye location, the most recent Mrs. Green’s to open in the county, there were several gaps in aisles, including produce, meats and dairy. A sign apologized for the store’s look and said the location is “currently experiencing significant product delivery challenges and may be missing a product you love.”
A company spokesperson said the shortages and store closings are unrelated and that management expects to have the supply problem quickly solved. The company declined to provide details on the cause of the supply challenges.
Natural Markets Food Group is owned by Toronto-based equity firm Catalyst Capital Group Inc. Catalyst also operates the Planet Organic and Richtree Natural Market Canadian grocery chains under the Natural Markets Food Group name. Mrs. Green’s started as a family-owned store in Scarsdale in 1991. In 2007, the company and its 11 stores at the time were bought for $33.7 million by Planet Organic Health Group, then Canada’s largest natural food retailer. Planet Organic filed for bankruptcy in 2010, when Catalyst acquired its assets.
Mrs. Green’s, which after the closings now operates 11 locations in Westchester and Fairfield counties and the Manhattan store, has had several stops and starts while fighting for its place in the shadow of Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and other larger grocery chains that crowd the metro New York market.
Mrs. Green’s in 2014 announced plans to open 100 stores within a few years. The company changed leadership later that year, appointing Pat Brown as its CEO in October 2014. Brown told Supermarket News two months after his appointment that he planned to focus any expansion on smaller stores in the Northeast market.
The closing of the Illinois store returns Mrs. Green’s focus to the Northeast. Its efforts to gain a foothold in the Chicago region started in 2013 with the launch of a 20,000-square-foot location in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of the city. Natural Markets Food Group invested $4 million in the site and was losing as much as $20,000 per week before closing it for renovations in July 2015, according to the Chicago Tribune. The company no longer plans to reopen at the location.
The Winnetka store, about 16 miles north of Chicago, launched in January of this year after an investment of $2.5 million, according to Crain’s Chicago Business.
Since 2015, Mrs. Green’s has also closed locations in Hartsdale, Mahopac and Katonah, as well as in Wilton, Connecticut.
Natural Markets Food Group rebranded the Mrs. Green’s logo and redesigned store interiors last year for the company’s two newest stores, in Rye and Manhattan’s West Village. Both The Rye and West Village stores opened in fall 2015.
Mrs. Green’s still expects to launch a location in 2017 at Saber Real Estate Advisors’ Rivertowns Square mixed-use development in Dobbs Ferry, a company spokesperson confirmed.