Family business’ wholesale-to-retail switch pays dividends
Contrary to other independent fish markets that are reducing their fresh seafood selection to control costs, 98-year-old Robert’s Seafood Market in Springfield, Ill., has increased its fresh offerings. Expansion is the name of the game for Robert’s, which also completed a major renovation in December, nearly doubling its space to 2,500 square feet and increasing its prepared seafood and non-seafood grocery selection.
The longstanding fish market, which started out as a retail store and then switched to a joint wholesale and retail operation, has re-invented itself as a successful retail-only location. In 2006, owner Dean Robert opted to sell the wholesale portion of the business to Sysco and focus only on retail. This move posed branding and presentation challenges in the marketplace.
“All of a sudden, we couldn’t find large volumes of seafood like we had before and we needed to re-identify the customer base with what we are now: pure retail,” said Brian Aiello, GM of operations. Utilizing the Robert family’s connections in the community and investing in marketing and advertising, Robert’s Seafood effectively built awareness about its fresh seafood offerings for residents in the busy Chicago suburb, where there was a generational shift, of sorts, in the works.
“All of the seafood species we were known for in the past, such as shucked oysters and smoked chubs, appealed to the older, previous generation. The new generation, which is more health conscious, re-energized us to address the opportunities going forward,” Aiello said.
Click here to read the full story that ran in the February issue of SeaFood Business >