Supermarket to Cut Costs at the Top

January 3, 2006 ( - Marsh Supermarkets, Inc., which put itself up for sale in November, has said it would end severance benefits and other moves to reduce executive pay if the company undergoes a change in management.

The Associated Press reports that Marsh said the changes would help cut operating expenses in the coming year, bolster shareholder value, and help lower its underfunded pension liability. The changes will lower the amounts payable to executives by about $28 million in the event of a management change, according to the company.

Among some of the changes it plans, Marsh said it would terminate supplemental executive retirement plans (SERPs) effective December 30, 2005; eliminate an option to pay SERP benefits in a lump sum after a change in management; and give executives an option to receive reduced SERP benefits in installments.

All the SERP participants have elected to receive their benefits in installments, requiring Marsh to pay three $6.3 million installments to the executives on January 2006, June 2006, and January 2007, according to the AP. The operator of Marsh supermarkets, LoBill Foods stores, and O’Malia Food Markets announced in November it would consider strategic alternatives, leading to the sale.