Baltimore retail chain looks for potential suitors...

Published on 12/10/2007 12:00am By David Mitchell

Baltimore retail chain looks for potential suitors

By David Mitchell, Senior Writer

Mars Supermarkets Inc., Glen Burie, Md., is on the auction block, according toan area retail consultant.

Jeremy Diamond of The Diamond Group, Baltimore, Md., said the Brussels,Belgium-based Delhaize Group and Eden Prairie, Minn.-based Supervalu Inc.might be potential suitors for the 18-store chain.

Diamond said the D'Anna family, which owns Mars, has been using an outsidemanagement firm to run the chain since its founding members died a decade ago.

Diamond said Supervalu is No. 3 in market share in the Baltimore andWashington, D.C., markets with 60 Shoppers Food and Pharmacy stores. He saidacquiring Mars would boost Shoppers past No. 2 Safeway in those markets.

Delhaize's Food Lion Stores Inc., Salisbury, N.C., recently entered the marketwith Food Lion, Bloom and Bottom Dollar banners.

The Fresh Market, Greensboro, N.C., also has entered the market recently.Diamond said some of Mars' smaller stores, former Pantry Pride locations,would be a good fit for that chain.

Diamond said a sale likely would include Mars' 300,000-square-foot warehouseand 17 of the chain's 18 stores. One location is expected to be taken over byBentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart Stores Inc., he said.