Many of those associated with the wholesale side of the food industry gathered in Las Vegas at the weekend for the Food Distributors International's Midyear Executive Conference. The meeting runs through Tuesday.
In keeping with that event, you'll find a front-page news feature centered on a wholesaler, Associated Grocers, Seattle, and quite a bit about wholesaling in the continuation of the SN's financial analysts' roundtable, the first part of which was in last week's SN. This week's installment -- the final part -- starts on Page 18.
Let's take a look at the front-page news feature first. As you'll see, the feature highlights steps the wholesaler is taking to present itself in a new way to its customers and the stores it supplies.
"Our goal is to refocus, reenergize and revitalize this company -- to get it back on its game plan by driving out unnecessary costs and delivering products at the best price with the best margins and the best service levels," Robert E. Hoyt, interim president and chief executive officer, told SN.
In that outlook on business, AG is hardly alone. It would be difficult to identify any company on the wholesale or retail side of the business that's insensitive to the need to seek better profit through an efficiency quest of some sort.
What's a little different about AG is that it's apparently deep within its own end zone when it comes to the need to revamp its operations. Moreover, it's acknowledged that finding a solution will require a fair amount of time, and that a sale of the wholesaler could be in the offing, but not before its current condition can be improved.
"It's likely it will take 12 to 18 months to restore stockholder value and get AG back to operating at a level of profitability that reflects the resources we have," Robert Hoyt told SN. Later in the interview, he said that "We need to be strong and successful before we can seriously consider consolidation opportunities that may arise."
Take a look at the news feature to find out what strategies are on the table to move AG from its present condition to a more viable one.
Meanwhile, for a macro look at wholesaling and other industry issues, see the analysts' roundtable. According to the analysts, the path that will lead to wholesaler success is that of specialization. "[Wholesalers] have to have a niche, and they have to be particularly good at whatever they're doing," one analyst said. The form of specialization could include buying stores, selling stores, partnering with chains, sponsoring marketing, enabling technology and so on.
But in any event, several predicted, wholesalers are likely to have quite an effect on the overall food-distribution landscape. "Wholesalers are going to be the catalyst for a lot of activity that goes on in supermarket retailing," one remarked. To sum it all up, take a look at this issue to see what's up in wholesaling.