In March, Jerry Garland was named the new president and chief executive officer of Associated Wholesale Grocers, Kansas City, Kan. — and it has already been a busy transition. In May, when Affiliated Foods Southwest, Little Rock, Ark., closed down, Garland expanded AWG’s reach by acquiring some AFS assets, and servicing more than 87 retailers with 160 stores in the region.
“I’m convinced that AWG offers these new members the tools they need to compete effectively in their markets,” Garland told SN.
Despite the difficult economy, AWG achieved record sales of $6.85 billion this past year, a $1.08 billion increase over 2007. AWG’s year-end rebate was a record 2.55%, amounting to $136 million. And the company announced a 2-for-1 stock split. AWG’s stock price has risen for 37 consecutive years.
“AWG and our member retailers have fared well in this tough economy,” Garland said. “Same-store sales are slightly positive overall. Our retailers are doing a tremendous job of managing their business and meeting the needs of their customers. From a retail perspective, our No. 1 goal is helping our members build same-store sales increases.”
Garland is also continuing former President and CEO Gary Phillips’ work with IGA. “The partnership between AWG and IGA is stronger now than ever before,” Garland said. “AWG supplies over 110 IGA stores from our Nashville, Tenn., and Fort Worth, Texas distribution centers. In addition, AWG is proud to have won ‘The President’s Cut’ as IGA’s licensed distributor of the year for 2009.”
In the midst of all of this success, Garland was also recently elected to the Food Marketing Institute’s board of directors.
Garland credits the people of AWG for the company’s continued success. “I’m most proud of our people, who continue to provide our members with a low cost of goods,” he said. “Our total cost of wholesale operation, about 3.5%, is among the lowest in the grocery industry. And we distribute essentially all of our profits to those who generate them — our member retailers.”
— Amy Sung