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The Fresh Market says CEO has left, reiterates 2014 forecast

The Fresh Market Inc. says Craig Carlock has left the company and stepped down from the board.

Its shares dropped more than 10 percent in afternoon trading.

The Greensboro, North Carolina-based company said late Monday that Sean Crain, its executive vice president and chief operating officer, was named interim CEO, effective immediately. Fresh Market said that it has hired an executive search firm to help it find a permanent CEO.

The company has seven stores in the Chicago area and two others downstate.

The company also maintained its fiscal 2014 forecast for an adjusted profit between $1.56 and $1.64 per share. Analysts polled by FactSet expect a profit of $1.58 per share.

Sales at stores open at least a year are still expected to climb 2.5 percent to 3.5 percent for fiscal 2014. This figure is a key indicator of a retailer’s health because it excludes results from stores recently opened or closed.

The company didn’t say in its news release why Carlock stepped down.

But in a statement, Chairman Ray Berry, founder of The Fresh Market, thanked Carlock for his service and “significant contributions.” He noted the company made the transition from a private to a public company under Carlock and had five consecutive years of increased sales and earnings.

Berry also said the company has “a significant opportunity to gain share in existing markets and expand into new markets.”

Fresh Market had 168 stores in 27 states as of Monday.

Its shares dropped $4.24, or 10.4 percent, to $36.55 in midday trading on Tuesday.