C&S, Wakefern, UNFI Outpace All Wholesale Grocers In Northeast

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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.