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 Schwan Food Co., in May. 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 decided to acquire Impromptu Gourmet. He says that Schwan’s first approached his company in December.
Schwan’s Home Service will continue to operate the Impromptu Gourmet business for Charlottesville, VA-based M&S as the brand transitions from one company to another. The transition is expected to be completed in 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 through home delivery and mail order.
Schwan’s Home Service, which has had a catalog since 1996, launched the gourmet food line in 2003 as the Schwan’s Select business. The brand changed its name to Impromptu Gourmet in 2004.