C&S Wholesale Grocers is the leading wholesaler in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast market area, according to data compiled by Best-Met Publishing Co. The Keene, NH-based privately held wholesaler that supplies retailers such as Stop & Shop, Giant/Martin’s, Giant Food (all Ahold Delhaize USA firms), Tops Markets, Fairway Market, Gerrity’s, Musser’s and independent retailers that are part of the Key Food, Associated Food Group and Allegiance groups in Metro New York, had estimated wholesale revenue of $17.1 billion in that marketing area for the period ended November 30, 2018. It also managed to remain (reportedly for two years) primary wholesaler for the Best Markets, which last month sold 27 stores to Lidl. And just before presstime, C&S announced it plans to acquire Olean Wholesale Grocery Cooperative which services approximately 270 grocery and convenience stores in upstate New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio.
Ranking second among all retail distributors in the region was member-owned Wakefern Food Corp. which rang up an estimated $13.3 billion in wholesale volume. The Keasbey, NJ based co-op’s large volume is generated through the success of its more than 250 ShopRite stores and nearly 70 Price Rite discount stores from Massachusetts through Virginia, including dominant positions in the large Metro New York and Delaware Valley markets.
In the boldest move of the year, UNFI’s acquisition of Supervalu created the industry’s first linking of a large natural, organics and specialty food distributor with a traditional full-service wholesaler. The $2.9 billion deal (including debt) was an expensive one for the Providence, RI-based company and significant changes are expected in the first six months of 2019. With the acquisition, UNFI now becomes the third largest wholesaler in the market, with estimated volume of $8.8 billion in the Mid-Atlantic/Northeast region.
Two of the largest national convenience store wholesalers – McLane and Core-Mark – dominated c-store distribution in the region. McLane’s 12 warehouses which served more than 6,000 stores (including many 7-Elevens) amassed estimated regional sales of $5.2 billion; and Core-Mark supplied more than 2,300 c-stores and amassed estimated annual wholesale sales of $1.95 billion.
Family-owned wholesale grocers, the genesis of virtually all grocery distribution, remained an important part of the landscape, despite tremendous industry consolidation and disruption.
Bozzuto’s, owned by the Bozzuto family, continued its tradition of strong customer service and innovation. The Cheshire, CT-based wholesaler serviced approximately 1,175 independent stores from three distribution centers (many of the IGAs) and rang up estimated wholesale sales of $2.13 billion in 2018.
Merchant Distributors, Inc., owned by the George family, remained the leading wholesaler in the Southeast, serving nearly 700 stores (including Lowes Foods, the regional chain of nearly 100 stores that parent firm Alex Lee owns). Annual wholesale volume is estimated at $1.91 billion for the Hickory, NC-based firm.
Two metro New York based distributors – Krasdale (owned by the Krasne family) and General Trading (owned by the Abad family) – also fared well in this year’s survey.
Krasdale, based in White Plains, NY, supplied many independent retailers under such banners as AIM, Bravo, C-Town, Market Fresh, Shop Smart and Stop 1 – whose combined sales paced all independent retailers in the five boroughs of New York City. All told, the company serviced approximately 3,050 stores in the metro NY and Philadelphia markets and accrued estimated sales of $1.6 billion this year.
General Trading, based in Carlstadt, NJ, also serviced many independent merchants doing business in the areas in and surrounding New York City. Of the company’s nearly 2,500 stores it supplied, many were ethnic and specialty customers. Annual wholesale revenue was estimated to be $635 million.
Burris Retail Logistics, another family-owned firm that dates to 1925, continued to be a dominant distribution and logistics company throughout the region. Along with supplying supermarkets and club stores through its Burris Custom Retail division, the Milford, DE-based organization operates a public refrigerated warehouse division (PRW Plus), a transportation company (Burris Transportation) and a foodservice redistribution business (Honor Foods). Its retail distribution entity, known for its expertise in temperature sensitive products, supplied about 550 stores (supermarkets and clubs) which produced estimated wholesale revenue of $535 million in 2018.
Rounding out the list of leading wholesale companies in the region are the three club store merchants that operate stores nationally. We have broken out store counts and estimated sales for those units which operate in our coverage area.
The nation’s largest club store operator – Costco –led the pack in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and parts of the Southeast with 77 stores and $5.5 billion in annual sales (extrapolated to include only food and related products). BJ’s Wholesale Club (which launched an IPO earlier this year) operated the most stores – 100 – which produced annual estimated sales of $3.84 billion (extrapolated) while Walmart-owned Sam’s Club’s 45 stores (seven fewer than last year) amassed $1.58 billion in extrapolated volume this year.