MINNEAPOLIS -- Nash Finch Co. President and Chief Executive Officer Al Flaten said the company must continue its course of growth to stay competitive in an industry caught in the "throes of transformation."
we must grow, for there is efficiency in size."
Flaten said the company will grow through acquisition. In 1996, the company closed on its two largest acquisitions, Military Distributors of Virginia -- making Nash Finch the largest food supplier to the military commissary system -- and Super Food Services, Ohio, which at the time was the fifth-largest voluntary wholesaler in the United States.
The Super Food acquisition positioned Nash Finch as the third-largest wholesaler in the country, behind Supervalu, based here, and Fleming Cos., Oklahoma City. The company also made several other acquisitions throughout the year and expanded several of its warehouse facilities, Flaten said.
In the coming year, Flaten said a top priority will be the design and development of the company's new Horizons Information System. The system will be rolled out in 1998 and early 1999
"One of the strategies of our company is to be on the leading edge of electronic technology with associates fully trained throughout our organization in the use of this technology so that we are able to make decisions quicker and better and closer to our customers and the ultimate consumer," Flaten said.
Flaten said sales for fiscal 1996 increased 16.8% to a record $3.4 billion, up from $2.9 billion the previous fiscal year. Net earnings rose 15% to $20 million. Net earnings per share increased 13.1%, from $1.60 in 1995 to $1.81 in 1996.
For the first quarter of 1997, sales rose 38.5% to $948 million, compared with $685 million in the year-ago quarter. Earnings were $3.1 million, or 27 cents per share, an increase of 9.3% from $2.8 million, or 26 cents per share in the first quarter of 1996.