Exclusive: Grocery chain Fairway Market eyes IPO: sources

Reuters News
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Posted: May 11, 2012 2:38 PM

By Olivia Oran

(Reuters) - Fairway Market, the high-end grocery store chain that traces its origins to a fruit and vegetable stand in New York City in the 1930s, is considering going public, five sources familiar with the situation said.

Fairway, majority owned by private equity firm Sterling Investment Partners, is in the early stages of interviewing banks to lead an initial public offering the sources said.

Two of the sources said it could fetch several hundred million dollars.

The sources, interviewed this week, declined to be named because the discussions with the company were private.

Sterling declined to comment, and Fairway Market could not be reached for comment.

The talks come amid a run up in the shares of chains like Whole Foods and Fresh Market, up 27 percent and 25 percent, respectively, since January, as investors bet that consumers will keep up demand for organic food.

Fairway Market has not picked banks to lead an IPO nor has it decided when to go public, all of the sources said.

Credit Suisse Group AG, the corporate bank for Fairway, has an advantage in the race, two of the sources said.

Credit Suisse declined to comment.

Fairway generated sales of roughly $550 million last year, the Wall Street Journal reported last year citing a Sterling partner.

Fairway, founded in 1933, has nine stores in Connecticut, New Jersey and New York. The tenth location in Woodland Park, New Jersey, is scheduled to open this summer.

(Reporting by Olivia Oran, Additional reporting by Soyoung Kim)