FALLS CHURCH, Va. -- Food-service distributors experienced sales growth of 9.1% in 1996 -- their strongest growth spurt since 1990 -- while wholesale grocers saw sales grow at a more modest 3.7%, according to the latest Distributor Productivity and Financial Report released by Food Distributors International here.
rose to 15.5 times for wholesale grocers and 15.2 times for food-service distributors.
Sales growth among wholesale grocers has declined over the past decade -- from 7% in 1987 to 3.7% in 1996 -- while sales growth among food-service distributors was down only 1 percentage point, to 10.1%, from 1987 levels.
The more consistent high-performing companies are those with larger sales volumes. However, both high and poor performers had similar operating expenses, reversing a trend of lower operating costs among more profitable companies.
High performers had gross margins as a percentage of sales of 9.6%, compared with 7.7% for low performers, with the difference primarily responsible for a 2.1% bottom-line profit among high performers, compared with only 0.3% for low performers.
High-performing food-service distributors reported higher typical net sales than the poor performers -- $172.6 million, compared with $45.4 million. Comparing sales growth of the two groups, the high performers increased sales by only 7.9%, compared with 9.9% for poor performers.