MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- The acquisition of Scrivner Inc. by Fleming Cos., Oklahoma City, could signal a new era of growth for Piggly Wiggly Corp. here.
Piggly Wiggly is a wholly owned subsidiary of Fleming, and the addition of former Scrivner distribution centers to Fleming's base could provide expansion opportunities for Piggly Wiggly franchises, according to Lawrence L. Crane Jr., Piggly Wiggly president.
"The merger provides us with potential opportunities to look at markets being served by Scrivner that may not have Piggly Wiggly stores," Crane said. "And if there's a need for a strong conventional operation in any of those areas, we can now offer the Piggly Wiggly franchise."
Although Fleming Cos., Oklahoma City, owns Piggly Wiggly Corp. here, it is not the sole supplier of the company's 821 supermarkets.
In fact, it supplies only about 50% of the stores across the 20 states in which Piggly Wiggly operates.
Piggly Wiggly franchisees are supplied by 17 distribution centers, of which 12 are Fleming operations and five are not.
The other five distributors are Bruno's, Birmingham, Ala. (which operates 55 Piggly Wiggly stores in southern Georgia); Piggly Wiggly Alabama Distribution Co., Bessamer, Ala; Piggly Wiggly Carolina Co., Charleston Heights, S.C.; Schultz Sav-O Stores, Sheboygan, Wis., and the Holt, Mich.-based Capistar division of Spartan Stores, Grand Rapids, Mich..
"Fleming would certainly prefer to supply all the stores," Crane said. "But over time, other arrangements have developed."
For Piggly Wiggly, the principal benefit of its association with Fleming is the financial funds the distributor makes available to the franchisees, Crane said. "And while Piggly Wiggly Corp. offers owners an array of services dealing with marketing, merchandising, retail training, in-store counseling, insurance and promotions, some of those services are supplemented by programs Fleming offers." Other distributors also offer services to the franchisees they supply, Crane noted.
Fleming acquired Piggly Wiggly as part of its 1988 acquisition of Malone & Hyde here.
Piggly Wiggly Corp. was founded by Clarence Saunders in 1916, and the initial Piggly Wiggly store here reportedly was one of the first self-service grocery stores in the country.
Among the company's other firsts, according to the company history: the first store with checkstands; the first to price-mark every item; the first to use refrigerated cases for produce, and the first to franchise stores.
Saunders lost control of the company through a series of stock transactions in the early 1920s, and the controlling stock was acquired in the late 1930s by W.R. Lovett, a Florida financier who sold his interest in Winn Lovett Grocery Co. (later Winn-Dixie) to take over Piggly Wiggly.
After Lovett's death in 1978, the stores were sold in 1982 to Malone & Hyde here. When Malone & Hyde was acquired by Fleming in 1988, Piggly Wiggly became a wholly owned subsidiary of Fleming.