SALT LAKE CITY -- Associated Food Stores' new president and chief executive officer, Richard Parkinson, is pressing ahead with the cooperative's plan to centralize administrative processes and information systems across its five divisions. "We are certainly aiming for a one-company concept encompassing all divisions," Parkinson told the annual meeting here. However, Parkinson, who succeeded the recently retired Gil Warner in the president and CEO roles, emphasized that centralization won't remove autonomy from the divisions. Instead, each unit will still have "plenty of latitude" to respond independently to the needs of its particular market, he said.
The company will have reached a major goal by year-end with the standardization of data processing, Parkinson said. The use of the Associated Information Management System will provide a common data processing-accounting platform that will help cut costs and reduce duplication across the divisions. The company has reported good success with the partial centralization of its retail advertising services. That was accomplished in 1992 when companywide advertising was moved into a facility here. Associated's sales for the fiscal year ended March 26, released at the meeting, rose 2.7% to $809 million from $787.6 million in the prior year. Total return to the co-op's 703 members, including interest on holdings and rebates, reached $41 million, up 4% from $39.4 million. During the 1994 fiscal year, the co-op retired all debt to outside lenders, Parkinson reported. Last year the co-op's members built 14 stores, remodeled seven and acquired 10 units for a total increase in retail space of 391,899 square feet. Store development plans for fiscal 1995 call for an additional 400,000 square feet, according to Parkinson. Associated operates distribution divisions in Pocatello and Boise, Idaho, and in Billings and Helena, Montana. Members are located in Utah, Idaho, Nevada, Wyoming, Colorado, Montana, Oregon and Washington.