NORFOLK, Neb. — Affiliated Foods Midwest is Wisconsin-bound.
The cooperative wholesaler here is planning to expand into a 700,000-square-foot distribution center to be built in Kenosha, Wis.
Officials of the cooperative confirmed local news reports that it was eyeing the site and was looking at a September completion for the building, but declined further comment.
Local sources said Affiliated, which picked up some independent retail accounts from former customers of Roundy's Supermarkets when that company exited the distribution business in 2005, sees additional opportunity to pick up new business in the area.
Roundy's switch to a predominantly retail model in 2005 unleashed more than $1 billion in combined sales from independent retailers around the Upper Midwest. Nash Finch, the Minneapolis-based wholesaler that purchased Roundy's former distribution centers in Westville, Ind., and Lima, Ohio, gathered in much of that business, but other players — including Spartan Stores, Grand Rapids, Mich.; Certified Grocers, Hodgkins, Ill.; Supervalu, Minneapolis; and Affiliated — also found new customers.
According to a listing of ad pages published on the Affiliated Foods website, the wholesaler currently services 24 stores in Wisconsin, including Pierce's Supermarkets in Baraboo and Hansen's IGA in Bangor, each of which operate five stores. Affiliated currently has distribution centers in Norfolk and Elwood, Kan., serving more than 800 independents in 12 states.
“Voluntary wholesalers might not be the best fit for independent retailers,” Jeff Maurer, president of Pierce's, told SN last week. “There are a lot of programs and technology a co-op like Affiliated can bring that can be very beneficial to independent retailers.”
Paul Butera, chairman of Certified, said that cooperative remains strong despite a portion of Certfied's business being shifted to Fresh Brands, the self-distributing chain of licensed and corporate Piggly Wiggly stores based in Sheboygan, Wis., that Butera purchased from Certified last year. Butera said his Butera Markets chain continues to buy from Certified, although it has shifted private-label buying to Fresh Brands. Certified is currently looking to relocate to a smaller warehouse or subdivide its current space.