MINNEAPOLIS -- Nash Finch here expects to become "increasingly active in the retail business," Harold B. Finch Jr., chairman and chief executive officer, said at the annual meeting.
"In addition to attracting new independent stores to our [wholesale] program, we have stepped up our efforts to acquire established independent chains for our corporate retail operations," Finch told shareholders this month.
Nash Finch, primarily a wholesale distributor, owns and operates 125 retail stores. It had 89 corporate units at the end of 1992. Finch said the increase is due to the company's pursuit of acquisitions in markets where it believes there is growth potential.
Most recently, Nash Finch acquired 23 Food Folks stores in North Carolina. Last year, it acquired Easter Enterprises, a 16-unit Iowa chain, and Mike's Town & Country stores, a five-unit group in Appleton, Wis.
"The former owner [of Food Folks] ran into financial difficulties and was not able to maintain the stores adequately," Finch said. "We intend to upgrade the information systems and fixtures, and over time, we envision enlarging several of them.
"These stores have the potential to be nicely profitable, providing us with a strong market presence and a good return on our investment," he said.
Nash Finch also plans to expand its Econofoods store in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, from 72,000 square feet to 103,000 square feet, making it the company's largest store, Finch said.
On the wholesale side, Nash Finch is seeking to build its business through acquisitions and investments, Finch said. The company reported sales of $2.5 billion last year.
The company also is looking to Mexico, where it has steadily increased its sales by supplying private-label products to many retailers operating there, including Wal-Mart Stores and Price/ Costco's Price Club, Finch said.
Over the next three years, the wholesaler will convert all 20 of its distribution centers to the same hardware and software systems to facilitate regional and centralized buying and companywide promotions, Al Flaten, president, told shareholders. (See related story, Page 16.)