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Mars Supermarkets to close Edison Hwy. distribution center

Mars Super Markets Inc. is closing its independent distribution center on Edison Highway in East Baltimore, the Rosedale-based company announced Monday, opting instead for a third-party supplier for its stores.

Mars delivery trucks line up outside the company’s distribution center Monday on Edison Highway in East Baltimore. (The Daily Record / Maximilian Franz)

The closing, scheduled for March 9, will affect 78 employees, according to the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.

Mars operates 17 stores in Baltimore, Harford, Howard and Anne Arundel counties, according to its website, and has almost 1,700 employees.

The change comes about “due to ever-increasing competition in the grocery business and to remain competitive with large regional and national chains,” Mars chairman and CEO Chris D’Anna said in a statement.

The company will outsource distribution to Bozzuto’s Inc., a family-owned wholesale distributor based in Connecticut, when it closes its 300,000-square-foot distribution center, according to D’Anna’s statement.

Mars said it plans to work with Bozzuto’s to help find new employment for employees impacted by the center’s closure.

“While it was a difficult decision to close our distribution facility, our new business model will allow us to leverage the buying power of a premier East Coast distributor serving more than 250 independent grocery stores,” D’Anna said.

“This will strengthen our ability to offer competitive pricing and a wide variety of high quality products to our customers and remain a preferred grocery option for Maryland families.”

Bozzuto’s has three distribution centers in Connecticut and one in Allentown, Pa.

A Mars representative said customers would not notice a change to the product line offered as a result of the new distribution arrangement.

Joseph D’Anna opened the first Mars Super Market in Essex in 1943. The grocery chain has since remained in the family.

Jeff Metzger, publisher of Food World and Food Trade News, which are based in Columbia, reported in a column this month that Bozzuto’s has been supplying some of Mars’ dairy products since September.

“This is a huge move for both Mars and Bozzuto’s,” Metzger wrote. “Despite a more challenging and competitive landscape and the continued aging of an already inefficient warehouse (the old 300,000-square-foot Food Fair depot which was built in the 1940s), the D’Anna family, which owns Mars, had steadfastly continued to serve its stores on a direct basis for most of its departments.”