DOWNERS GROVE, Ill., Feb. 26, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Fresh Thyme Farmers Market, a full-service specialty retailer rapidly growing across the Midwest and focused on value-priced fresh, healthy and organic offerings, has once again posted strong, double-digit dollar growth of 19.8 percent according to SPINS data, outpacing almost all other retailers in the natural space, despite an unpredictable and retail environment.

“We put our shoppers first,” said Chris Sherrell, President and CEO of Fresh Thyme Farmers Market. “We strive to connect with our shoppers in meaningful ways and be their go-to resource to jumpstart or help them continue their health journeys. It’s that philosophy that has allowed us to post strong growth in both store count and sales this year. We will continue to hire local residents, support local causes and find new ways to connect with community.”

“We’re also very quick to address our customers’ needs and determine how to best serve them. In the last 12 months, we’ve successfully launched ten new stores, introduced online ordering and home delivery across all 75 of our stores and expanded our private label offerings by 33 percent – all by being local in the way we manage and promote our shopping experience,” said Sherrell.

Expanding Across the Midwest
Fresh Thyme continues to be a bright spot in what has been a year of change and uncertainty in the retail space. While many others closed their doors in 2018, Fresh Thyme opened new stores in Minnesota, Ohio, Missouri, Indiana and Pittsburgh, bringing its store count to 75 locations throughout the Midwest.

Expansion continues to be a priority in 2019, with four new Grand Openings currently scheduled. There will also be a strong emphasis and focus on continuing to develop and strengthen Fresh Thyme’s relationship with customers across many touch points including in-store and digital experiences. The company will look to stock even more hyper-local products on shelves and provide technology that makes shopping at Fresh Thyme a more seamless, convenient experience.

Private Label​
Fresh Thyme's private label offering continues to strengthen and grow. In 2018 alone, 455 new products were added for a total of 1,850 private label products available in-store. The private label line has been lauded for being ahead of the trends and offering Fresh Thyme shoppers high-quality items at a great value. The overall approach has been so ground-breaking that this year, Fresh Thyme's director of private brand development was awarded the Innovation Award as part of the Top Women in Store Brands Awards.

Fresh Thyme promises customers that the private label lineup will only get better and more innovative. On the horizon are new sweet and savory items, as well as a fun twist on protein-rich, easy-to-prepare meals.

Digital Updates
In 2018, Fresh Thyme launched its partnership with Instacart. The combined offering allows Fresh Thyme shoppers to order online and have healthy groceries delivered directly to their homes. This level of convenience is all part of the grocery chain's dedication to making fresh, organic food readily available.

In early January, Fresh Thyme debuted a new website with a totally new look and lots of exciting, inspiring content for consumers. From better-for-you recipes to dietitian tips, the new site at freshthyme.com captures the attention of shoppers looking to start or build on their healthy journey.

Commitment to Community
Giving back to the community is core to the Fresh Thyme brand. As part of each new location's grand opening, Fresh Thyme donates to select local causes as a demonstration of its dedication to serve the community. In 2018, Fresh Thyme donated more than $45K to local causes via grand openings and thousands of dollars to support additional causes and organizations including youth sports teams, food banks and school programs. In March of 2018, Fresh Thyme also launched its Giving Bag Program which has since raised and donated more than $41K. The initiative allows shoppers who purchase reusable bags with the ‘giving tag’ the option to direct $1 to a local nonprofit of their choice on the Fresh Thyme Giving Bag Program website or allow the store to choose a local charity to benefit from their donation.

Fresh Thyme’s fourth annual Golf Classic raised more than $500,000 for veteran’s charities Mission 22 and Warrior’s Heart, bringing its total contribution to more than $1.2MM. Both organizations are nonprofits that seek to help veterans and first responders with treatment programs and other forms of support.

Additionally, the year-round Vitamin Angels program will not only continue, but in 2018 Fresh Thyme increased their donation from 10 cents for every bottle of Private Label Vitamins sold to 25 cents. Each year, beginning in December and through the end of the year, Fresh Thyme also provided shoppers the opportunity to round up at the register, with their extra change going to support the Vitamin Angels mission of providing malnourished mothers and children from all over the world with much-needed vitamins and supplements. To-date, Fresh Thyme has donated more than $600K to the organization, thus, helping an estimated 2 million children worldwide.

As the retailer looks to 2019, it's safe to say its commitment to the community will only deepen as they look for new opportunities to contribute to local causes. 

In-Store Programming
Fresh Thyme has also strengthened its in-store programming for younger shoppers with its Kids Thyme Program – an initiative focused on introducing younger shoppers to fresh produce and better-for-you snacks, making the store experience more approachable and developing healthy eating habits early on! The Kids Thyme Farm Stand re-launched this year and features three bins of fresh produce, a bin of vitamin and body care samples and one of coloring books and crayons. All of these items are available to kids for free! 

A store tour program rolled out in May, which encourages schools to bring kids, ages 5-12, for a behind-the-scenes look at the various operations at the grocery store including bakery activity, taste-testing seasonal produce and bulk bin items, making fresh-squeezed orange juice and a healthy food scavenger hunt. 

About Fresh Thyme Farmers Market
Fresh Thyme Farmers Market is a full-service specialty retailer focusing on value-priced fresh, healthy, natural and organic offerings. It boasts an extensive produce department with organic and local fruits and vegetables, a natural meat department, healthy deli foods to go, bakery goods, 400 bulk food bins, dairy and frozen, health supplement products, and its own line of organic and natural private label products. Learn more at freshthyme.com. Keep in touch by liking us at facebook.com/freshthymefarmersmarkets, instagram.com/freshthyme and following us at twitter.com/freshthymefm.

Contact:
Laura Coler
E: lcolar@sccadv.com
P: 312.464.1666

A photo accompanying this announcement is available at http://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/b3809aec-48ed-4597-804b-8eca1b1c2b87