Starting in January, shoppers at Andronico’s Markets should start seeing upgrades in the chain’s remaining five stores, including new refrigeration cases, revamped displays, and shelves stocked with additional goods.
The revamp is part of Renovo Capital’s quest to capture a greater market share of the high-end grocery business, a sector Andronico’s competed well in until money troubles and a lack of capital forced the chain into bankruptcy.
“The specialty market segment is very competitive,” said Adam Alberti of Singer Associates, a firm hired by Andronico’s to talk to the press. “There is a whole host of upstart companies, as well as the more established ones like Whole Foods. Andronico’s has a strong brand and a significant loyal customer base and we think we can compete successfully in that environment.”
The shuttering of two Berkeley Andronico’s – one on University Avenue and one on Telegraph Avenue – will allow the chain to concentrate its resources on its remaining stores, and “improve the customer experience,” said Alberti.
“Many of the Andronico’s have not kept pace with the improvements its competitors have put in,” said Alberti. “That will begin to change this January when (Andronico’s) begins to improve their stores.”
Renovo Capital bought the bankrupt chain for $16 million in late October, around the same time it acquired another bankrupt business, A.G. Ferrari, the Italian specialty chain, for $1.2 million. Alberti said at some point A.G. Ferrari goods might be sold at Andronico’s.
The bankruptcy and bailout resulted in the shuttering of two Andronico’s stores in Berkeley and the layoff of about 55 unionized store workers, said Alberti. Another 45 employees lost their jobs when Andronico’s closed its Palo Alto store, but that was before Renovo Capital was involved, he said.
“It’s been pretty rocky,” said Mike Henneberry, a rep for United Food and Commercial Workers Local 5, which represents Andronico’s employees.
After Renovo Capital took over, all the employees had to reapply for their jobs.
The Telegraph Avenue store is slated to close in a few weeks, depending on how fast Andronico’s can liquidate the merchandise, said Alberti. Most things in the store are 20% off. If what happened at the University Avenue store is any indication, the discounts will get deeper as time passes.
City officials believe that the Telegraph Avenue location will not be vacant for long. Both CVS Pharmacy and Fresh & Easy, a chain owned by Tesco, the huge British multinational, are interested in the site, according to officials who asked not to be named.
Andronico’s on Telegraph Avenue to close [11.25.11]
As Andronico’s on University closes, huge sale in progress [10.25.11]
Andronico’s to shutter University Avenue store [ 10.17.11]
Andronico’s and A.G. Ferrari saved from the brink [10.12.11]
Andronico’s files for bankruptcy [08.22.11]
Andronico’s plans recapitalization with new lenders and investors [05.25.11]
Four Berkeley Andronico’s face difficult conditions [05.24.11]
A.G. Ferrari closes Berkeley store, company bankrupt [04.05.11]