M&S Fine Foods Buys Impromptu Gourmet

May 14, 2007 5:58 PM  By

With its acquisition of the Impromptu Gourmet catalog, M&S Fine Foods isn’t merely adding another title to its holdings. M&S is hoping to use the brand to build a chain of Impromptu Gourmet stores.

M&S, which mails the Fine Food Now catalog, bought Imprompt Gourmet from Schwan’s Home Service, a subsidiary of Minneapolis-based The Schwan Food Co. Terms of the sale were not disclosed.

M&S chairman Bernard Lalone says his company is looking to extend the Impromptu Gourmet to bricks-and-mortar retail by opening several stores in urban areas along the East Coast. In addition to selling Impromptu Gourmet’s ready-made meals, the stores would sell items from M&S’s McArthur’s Smokehouse and Seyco Fine Foods brands.

“The future in specialty foods is in home meals,” Lalone says. “We already carry about 350 SKUs, many made for us by artisans, that are not available in any grocery chain, so this would be a good crossover of our philosophy with Impromptu Gourmet.”

Lalone cites similar customer bases as a key reason that M&S bought Impromptu Gourmet deal. He says his company was first approached by Schwan’s in December.

Schwan’s Home Service will continue to operate the Impromptu Gourmet business for Charlottesville, VA-based M&S Fine Foods as the brand transitions from one company to another. The transition is expected to be complete in which is August.

In a statement, Schwan’s executive vice president Bill McCormack said the sale of Impromptu Gourmet will allow his company to focus on its core Home Service business, which markets and distributes about 400 products under the Schwan’s brand through home delivery and mail order.

Schwan’s Home Service’s gourmet food line launched in 2003 as the Schwan’s Select business. The business changed its name to Impromptu Gourmet products in 2004.