The year was 1996. With independent retailers in the western United States struggling to hold their own against Albertsons and Kroger, their suppliers at Associated Food Stores realized something had to change. "We weren't really meeting the consumer's needs," recalled Neal Berube, chief operating officer and chief financial officer for the Salt Lake City-based wholesaler. "We were all over the place. Even though we had far more [stockkeeping units] than the competition, we were viewed as ...

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