Boosted by acquisitions, new-store development, inflation and same-store sales growth, this year's SN Top 75 posted $830.19 billion in sales, up about 4.26% over the year-ago total of $796.29 billion.
That figure is only slightly more than the 3%-4% food-price inflation supermarket operators said they passed along in 2007, but it still reflects the overall strength of food retailing as consumers seemed to cut back more on restaurant spending and eat more meals at home, despite the higher prices they paid at the checkout.
The 10 food retailers at the top of this year's list — which were the same 10 that appeared atop the list a year ago — accounted for almost all of the $33.9 billion increase in Top 75 sales. Those 10 had revenues (based on estimated or actual data from their current or recently ended fiscal years) of $570.3 billion, up 4.66% vs. their total of $544.9 billion in the preceding year.
The 10 largest companies accounted for 68.7% of the total revenues for all of the Top 75 chains this year, compared with 68.43% in the preceding year.
The gains for the 10 largest players came even though four of them — Supervalu, Safeway, Ahold and C&S Wholesale — all reduced their store counts in the most recent year. The other six added a total of 386 retail locations, led by Wal-Mart Stores' 172 additional units.
The 20 largest operators on this year's Top 75 list tallied revenues of $681.4 billion in the most recent year, up 4.77% over the $650.4 billion recorded by the 20 largest players of the preceding year. A&P's acquisition of Pathmark Stores in the current year accounted for much of the growth of the “second tier” of operators ranked 11-20.
The top 20 accounted for about 82.08% of the total sales of the Top 75 in the most recent year, vs. 81.68% a year ago.
The list of top wholesalers (see Page 20) included one less company this year because of the acquisition of Associated Grocers of Seattle by what is now Unified Grocers, Los Angeles. Otherwise, the list of wholesalers saw slight gains in revenues, to $113 billion, up about 7.6% vs. $105 billion in the preceding year — although excluding Supervalu, whose revenues are now 80% comprised of retail sales and whose most recent totals include a full year of results from the Albertsons acquisition, wholesalers saw an increase of less than 2% in revenues year to year.
Among those wholesalers that gained revenues in the most recent year, according to Top 75 data, were the Elizabeth, N.J.-based Wakefern cooperative, parent of the ShopRite banner, whose members acquired several former Stop & Shop stores in New Jersey and New York in 2007; Associated Wholesale Grocers, Kansas City, Kan., whose members acquired several former Albertsons stores in Oklahoma in the past year; United Natural Foods, Dayville, Conn., which recently acquired Millbrook Distribution and which saw sales of natural and organic products continue to climb; and Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Spartan Stores, which added both corporate stores through acquisition and distribution customers through its members' purchases of former Farmer Jack locations in the Detroit market.
The top alternative formats (see Page 14) — which, like the wholesalers, are also included in the main Top 75 list — posted revenues of $377 billion, vs. $362.64 billion in the preceding year, a gain of about 4%.
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