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“The values of my father and uncle who founded the company were simple — treat the customers and vendors and associates the way you want to be treated, and that’s the way it stands today.”
— Ed Roche, chief operating officer, Roche Bros.
Roche Bros. now operates 18 stores in Massachusetts.
WELLESLEY HILLS, Mass. — Most people would probably not cite the local supermarket as their first choice to cater their wedding — unless they happen to be customers of Roche Bros.
“You really have to trust a retailer to give them your wedding, and we do a lot of weddings here,” said Gary Pfeil, president of the 18-store chain, in an interview with SN.
He said the family-owned chain, which is marking its 60th anniversary this year, owes much of its success to its commitment to offering a high-quality product to its customers and to its strong relationships with its workers. Those elements have given it a premium positioning in its marketing area around Boston.
“When it comes to giving great service, a lot of people talk the talk, but we walk the walk,” Pfeil told SN. “If you go back to the beginning, Buddy and Pat Roche opened a small meat market, where they had a one-on-one relationship with people — they were always talking to their customers, and I think that spirit of Buddy and Pat carries on very much today.”
Pat Roche, who died earlier this year, founded the chain with his brother Buddy in 1952, opening a 450-square-foot meat and produce shop in Roslindale, Mass., with the slogan, “The Best Meats Sold Anywhere.”
The chain, which today generates sales estimated at close to $600 million, remains family-owned, run by brothers Ed and Rick Roche (pictured) as chief operating officer and chief executive officer, respectively, along with Pfeil as president.
“The values of my father and uncle who founded the company were simple — treat the customers and vendors and associates the way you want to be treated, and that’s the way it stands today,” Ed Roche told SN. “Our mission is of course quality and service, and we add to that cleanliness.”
As the chain has grown, it has added larger and larger stores and more and more services, with its focus on strong perishables and perimeter departments like deli, bakery, meat, seafood and produce. It has also opened three stores under the Sudbury Farms banner.
The catering department that provides wedding banquets began in a single store and has expanded to almost all locations. Roche Bros. also provides wedding cakes and flower arrangements.
“It has continued to grow and grow and grow,” said Pfeil (pictured with Rich Ordway, facilities director). “And the feedback we get from it is fantastic.”
Other initiatives that have gained traction in recent years include home delivery, which is showing considerable promise, Pfeil said, and self-service hot-food bars, which have now been rolled out to more than half a dozen locations.
“The self-service bars are working out very well,” said Ed Roche. “It was an initial shock for the customer, but they end up buying more, and it also ends up saving us some service hours.”