Marsh may close area grocery stores if no buyer is found

A grocery chain has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and may close four locations in the region as a result.

Forty-four Marsh Supermarkets stores — including those located at 621 N. University Blvd. in Middletown; 1500 Plaza Drive in Hamilton; 223 Auckerman in Eaton; and 982 N. Market in Troy — could close if a buyer cannot be found within 60 days, according to the company.

The Middletown store was built in 1960, and the Hamilton store was built in 1967, according to Butler County Auditor’s Office records.

MORE: Marsh Supermarkets seeks to reorganize in bankruptcy

If all 44 stores were to close, it would put 2,788 people out of work, including 1,000 full-time employees, according to Marsh. In a letter to employees, the grocery chain said the job losses would be permanent.

Indianapolis-based Marsh Supermarkets said it is in the process of closing 16 other under-performing stores.

“We would be disappointed to lose a grocer that gives our residents a grocery option that is convenient and accessible,” said Jennifer Ekey, Middletown’s economic development director.

Jeff Diver, executive director of Supports to Encourage Low-income Families, said he would be “saddened” for possible job losses in Middletown. He also said he’d be concerned with the possibility of exacerbating the food desert problem where there is a lack of access to obtain fresh fruit and vegetables.

If that store should close, some of their lower income clientele may have fewer options to get fresh fruit and vegetables in that part of the city.

For a number of years, local attorney Dustin Hurley has represented his client Mandzak Enterprises who leases the building where the Middletown Marsh store is located. Hurley said the oldest lease he’s been able to find goes back to 1980.

RELATED: Middletown grocery store owners walking away after 30 years

“We’re thankful that the Middletown store has been performing well enough to stay open,” he said. “We were not surprised by the bankruptcy announcement.”

Hurley said it appears the current owners of Marsh are hoping to sell or auction off the business and potential buyers have until June to submit bids. But if there are not enough bids, the company might close more stores.

RELATED: Brown’s Deli in Hamilton looking for new owner

At its peak, Marsh operated 120 supermarkets in Indiana and Ohio before being purchased by Sun Capital Partners in 2006.

In January 2014, Marsh closed its Main Street Market store in Franklin, along with seven other stores.

In 2013, the Main Street Market in Hamilton closed.

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