If we were to rank the annual supplements published in SN according to those that attract the most interest when issued, and for months following, high on that roster would be SN's Top 75 supplement.
Luckily, this is the week the supplement issues, and you'll find it against Page 18. The Top 75 supplement generates much interest because it's little less than a state-of-the-industry report in tabular form. The tables list industry players in order of top-line revenue, which offers a way to assess quickly who's up and who's down in the food distribution industry. The tables are also backed by a couple of pages of narrative that help explain what they mean. The annual supplement, issued to coincide with the Food Marketing Institute's Midwinter Executive Conference now meeting in Scottsdale, Ariz., was prepared by SN's Elliot Zwiebach.
As usual, this year's list contains several changes from the previous year's list, changes that account for mergers and rising or falling company performances. Let's take a look at some of the changes you'll see in the supplement.
The change highest on this year's list is the one that finds Safeway swapping positions with Supervalu, as compared to last year's list. Supervalu, fueled by its integration of the 2006 acquisition of Albertsons, replaced Safeway as the nation's fourth-largest operator. Safeway became the fifth largest. Similarly, Publix Super Markets moved up to the seventh slot on the list, from eighth, displacing Ahold to eighth place. Publix rose on the strength of 40 store openings. Ahold dropped because of continued asset sales, most recently Tops Markets.
Three names vanished from this year's list because of merger activity. Gone this year are Pathmark, sold to A&P; Wild Oats Markets, sold to Whole Foods; and Associated Grocers, Seattle, sold to Unified Grocers. Those changes put in motion other rearrangements, such as A&P's lift to No. 17 this year, from No. 21, and Unified's leap to 32, from 39. Whole Foods rose one notch, to No. 22. Another move related to Whole Foods involved Smart & Final, which rose one slot to No. 49. Whole Foods spun off 36 stores it acquired to Smart & Final.
Three names joined the list this year, filling the three vacancies. Tops appeared on the list at No. 54; owing to Ahold's divestiture, Tops became a separate company for the first time in many years. Fareway Stores and Piggly Wiggly Carolina Co. joined too at Nos. 73 and 74, respectively.
Finally, several companies moved on the list because of internal growth instead of for asset-sale reasons. That was the case with these companies, each of which moved up four places: Trader Joe's, to No. 23, because of a new-store program. Wegmans, to No. 30, because of revenue gains and some new-store activity. Ingles Markets, to No. 40, because of gains captured with an identical store count.
Don't miss the Top 75 list.