business news in context, analysis with attitude

The Associated Press reports that Marsh Supermarkets decided to give members of its executive team raises and/or bonuses in the days and months before its decision to consider a sale of the company.

A filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) says that a $250,000 “discretionary” bonus was given to CFO John C. Elbin on November 17. The company said that the bonus was a reward for his work in refinancing a credit agreement and exploring strategic alternatives.

The company also gave company president David Marsh a 10 percent raise, to $440,000 a year (he reportedly had not gotten a raise for 28 months); and gave Jack Bayt, president/COO of the company’s Crystal Food Services subsidiary, a “contractually obligated $250,000 bonus.
KC's View:
Forget our view for a moment. And forget whether these raises/bonuses were appropriate.

We got an email yesterday in response to the Marsh-for-sale story that read:

“To those who work and shop at Marsh Supermarkets - fight the fight. Convince Don Marsh that the associates and customers that made this chain a great place to shop can overcome the financial bumps in the road. There is certainly enough of a talent pool and loyal customer base present, take the time to evaluate what got you there, how to be more efficient, and capitalize on what differentiates Marsh.”

What you have there is a passionate consumer/observer.

We suspect that there are a lot of people who feel that way about Marsh, and who were disappointed to hear that the company might be sold. That disappointment may have been compounded by this story about the raises and bonuses, since, fair or not, it looks like the executives may be feathering their own nests.

That’s a perception problem. And perception can become reality.

In the modern era, companies that depend on consumer support can’t afford to be even a little bit tone deaf.