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Southeastern Grocers reveals innovative store concept

Southeastern Grocers, the parent company of BI-LO, Harveys and Winn-Dixie stores, unveiled its new Harveys Supermarket store concept July 20. With a focus on great value, stunning quality food and serving with personality, this store has been tailored to the Charlotte, NC, community and continues Southeastern Grocers’ extensive store remodel program for 2016.harvey

Despite the fact that Harveys has more than 90 years of heritage in the Southeast, this will be the first Harveys store to open in North Carolina. The store reflects the supermarket’s commitment to meeting the unique tastes and needs of the communities in which it operates.

“Charlotte is a vibrant city that is growing and changing quickly, and we recognized an opportunity to provide a fresh store for this community,” Ian McLeod, president and chief executive officer of Southeastern Grocers, said in a press release. “While our store is undergoing dramatic changes and improvements, our commitment to providing great value and service to our customers will remain our top priority, as we continue to invest in lower prices and new jobs for Charlotte.”

The refreshed Charlotte location offers enhancements throughout the new and improved Harveys store, including a refreshed produce department featuring quality produce from farmers throughout North Carolina.

The new Harveys store will also unveil a new pricing campaign called Low and Staying Low. Similar to the Down Down campaign known by the BI-LO shoppers in Charlotte, prices have been marked down on the products that customers shop the most — and the prices are staying low for at least six months.

Any products that were on the Down Down pricing have been converted into the Low and Staying Low program, and shoppers at the new Harveys will actually benefit from an additional 350 products being marked down, for a total of more than 850 products offered at reduced price for at least six months.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Grocers Support Comprehensive Immigration Reform

For too many years Congress failed to address the issue of comprehensive immigration reform and by doing so ignored the status of the now estimated 11 million undocumented immigrations currently living and working in the United States. Subsequently, businesses have been left to grapple with what has become a matrix of state and local immigration laws passed to fill the void left by Congress. 

As grocers we open ours doors each and every day to serve our local communities. More and more of our customers and our associates are impacted by the failure of our immigration system, either directly or indirectly. Some grocers have even been subjected to intrusive and costly actions by federal and state local law enforcement in search of potential undocumented workers or other violations. Inaction is no longer an option. The time is come for our nation to address the immigration issue head on.  

In February 2013 the National Grocers Association’s Board of Directors appointed a committee to study the immigration issue and ultimately make a policy recommendation for NGA to adopt.  In April a position recommendation was made and subsequently approved unanimously by the Board of Directors, leading NGA to take the bold step of endorsing comprehensive immigration reform. 

NGA’s position calls for comprehensive reform that preempts state and local laws and includes four major provisions:

  • Secure borders and respect for the rule of law.
  • Mandatory E-Verify at no cost to employers for new hires only with a strong safe harbor that protects employers acting in good faith.
  • Support for an expanded guest worker program that includes trades such as bakers, butchers, and cooks.
  • A path to legal status for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants so that they can come out of the shadows, while keeping families together.

Embracing comprehensive immigration reform that addresses the real challenges facing our nation today, while ensuring strong protections for employers acting in good faith, is a step in the right direction. Independent grocers are willing to be part of the solution as long as employers are provided with appropriate safe harbors to ensure their ability to comply without fear of criminal or civil reprisals. We know that we are asking our members subject themselves to new administrative burdens through E-Verify and we don’t take that mandate lightly; however immigration reform is coming and with it will be a mandatory employment verification component. By working with Congress and other stakeholders we can be part of the solution and enact comprehensive reform that works for grocers and the communities we serve.

It’s time for Congress to do the right thing and pass comprehensive immigration reform that supports the principles supported by NGA’s Board. The Senate recently took the important step in passing their bill and now the focus shifts to the House where the Judiciary Committee has been holding hearings and considering proposals. NGA will continue to be part of that process and support common sense efforts that strengthen employer protections.

The immigration debate is one that we all have a stake in and should support Congress working in a bi-partisan manner to pass a comprehensive bill that works for all. It’s the right thing to do for our country and the right thing to do for our industry.     

Supermarket News

Group changes name to National Co+op Grocers

The National Cooperative Grocers Association said Tuesday it is changing its name to National Co+op Grocers to better represent its role as a business-services cooperative.

The group, founded in 1999 and based in Iowa City, Iowa, said it has 143 members and associate co-ops operating more than 190 units in 38 states with combined annual sales exceeding $ 1.7 billion.

“NCG is not a typical trade association, which often focuses on public relations, marketing and network services for its members,” said CEO Robynn Shrader. “We do provide these services, but we also negotiate purchasing contracts, execute national promotional strategies and offer a wide range of development services.


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“Although the name, look and feel is new, our commitment to being a dynamic and transparent organization with clear and meaningful ways for our co-ops to participate remains the same. Our role is really more that of a virtual grocery chain.

“Whether advocating for food policies in Washington D.C. or helping the banking community understand the cooperative business model, identifying as National Co+op Grocers helps us better reflect our relationship to our coops and our shared purpose.”

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Associated Wholesale Grocers names EVP of division operations

Associated Wholesale Grocers announced that David Smith will be promoted to executive vice president of division operations effective Jan. 4. Smith will report to Jerry Garland, president and chief executive officer. In this new role he will have responsibility for AWG operations, corporate distribution, corporate services and IT.

Smith has been in the grocery industry for many years, starting as a teen in a family-owned business and working in various retail roles, including store owner and operator. Prior to joining AWG, David spent 17 years in various wholesale positions with Malone & Hyde and later Fleming, ranging from retail development manager to general manager of the Nashville, TN, division.

Having joined AWG in 2003 as director of real estate, Smith was promoted to director of member services for the Nashville division in 2007. In 2009 he was promoted to vice president of merchandising for the Memphis, TN, division. In conjunction with his contributions in Memphis, Smith was soon promoted to senior vice president and division manager and led the team in the successful start-up of the new Gulf Coast division.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Associated Wholesale Grocers names EVP of division operations

Associated Wholesale Grocers announced that David Smith will be promoted to executive vice president of division operations effective Jan. 4. Smith will report to Jerry Garland, president and chief executive officer. In this new role he will have responsibility for AWG operations, corporate distribution, corporate services and IT.

Smith has been in the grocery industry for many years, starting as a teen in a family-owned business and working in various retail roles, including store owner and operator. Prior to joining AWG, David spent 17 years in various wholesale positions with Malone & Hyde and later Fleming, ranging from retail development manager to general manager of the Nashville, TN, division.

Having joined AWG in 2003 as director of real estate, Smith was promoted to director of member services for the Nashville division in 2007. In 2009 he was promoted to vice president of merchandising for the Memphis, TN, division. In conjunction with his contributions in Memphis, Smith was soon promoted to senior vice president and division manager and led the team in the successful start-up of the new Gulf Coast division.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Associated Wholesale Grocers names EVP of division operations

Associated Wholesale Grocers announced that David Smith will be promoted to executive vice president of division operations effective Jan. 4. Smith will report to Jerry Garland, president and chief executive officer. In this new role he will have responsibility for AWG operations, corporate distribution, corporate services and IT.

Smith has been in the grocery industry for many years, starting as a teen in a family-owned business and working in various retail roles, including store owner and operator. Prior to joining AWG, David spent 17 years in various wholesale positions with Malone & Hyde and later Fleming, ranging from retail development manager to general manager of the Nashville, TN, division.

Having joined AWG in 2003 as director of real estate, Smith was promoted to director of member services for the Nashville division in 2007. In 2009 he was promoted to vice president of merchandising for the Memphis, TN, division. In conjunction with his contributions in Memphis, Smith was soon promoted to senior vice president and division manager and led the team in the successful start-up of the new Gulf Coast division.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Natural Grocers to buy independent Nature’s Pantry

Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage on Friday said it was acquiring Independence, Mo.-based natural foods retailer Nature’s Pantry. NGVC said it would close the store on Dec. 7 and reopen it under the Natural Grocers banner.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. NGVC said the transaction is expected to be accretive to in fiscal 2015, although it will be immaterial to earnings per share. The Independence store will be included as one of the 18 stores the company expects to open during fiscal year 2015. Natural Grocers currently operates a store in Columbia, Mo.

“We are excited to become part of the Independence community,” said Kemper Isely, co-president of Natural Grocers. “In entering this new market, we look forward to continuing Nature’s Pantry’s mission of empowering customers to make informed health decisions through our nutrition education, high quality standards and affordable prices.”

Retail Insights, based in Brattleboro, Vt., advised Nature’s Pantry on the deal. Company president Jay Jacobowitz, commenting on the transaction said, “This acquisition proves that independent natural products retailers are not only viable, but remain the vibrant energy core of the natural products industry, serving consumers newly interested in healthy foods and healthy lives.

“The owners of Nature’s Pantry have worked extremely hard for 20 years, continually reinvesting in their store, paying close attention to customers and taking care of employees,” Jacobowitz continued. “At 17,000 square feet today, Nature’s Pantry is a testament to the amazing success independent natural products retailers can achieve in this dynamic and growing industry of ours.”

Supermarket News

On heels of AWI purchase, C&S acquires Grocers Supply

C&S Wholesale Grocers Inc. has agreed to acquire the wholesale distribution and supply business of the Grocers Supply Co. Inc. This news comes less than a week after its bid to purchase Associated Wholesalers Inc. was approved.

The new acquisition will include Grocers Supply’s warehouse and distribution operations in the Houston, Dallas and Rio Grande Valley areas along with its approximately 1,800 employees, but will not include any of Grocers Supply’s retail operations. The transaction is expected to close before the end of the year.

“The Grocers Supply Company has a century-long legacy of providing the highest level of service to its valued customers, which are primarily independent retailers and regional chains,” Rick Cohen, C&S Chairman and chief executive officer, said in a press release. “We very much look forward to partnering with the Grocers Supply team to continue this tradition and to expand the services and offerings available to its customers through the strength and scale of C&S. C&S is excited to enter the Southwestern United States market and to have the opportunity to service this growing and vital region.”

Grocers Supply distributes all major product lines, including produce, and is also known as one of the leading distributors of Hispanic grocery products in the country, focusing on Texas-made and Texas-grown products.

Grocers Supply’s largest customer is the Fiesta Mart chain of stores, which includes 60 retail locations and is one of the larger grocers in the country serving the Hispanic market.

“C&S is strongly committed to maintaining the service and product assortment that Grocers Supply’s loyal customers have come to expect,” Cohen said in the release. “This is an exciting opportunity for both companies, as well our customers and employees, as we combine the best aspects of Grocers Supply and C&S to produce a truly differentiated offering to the independent grocer.”

“As the Levit family planned for the next 100 years, with the goal of sustaining the Grocers Supply wholesale business, we determined that selling the wholesale business would be in the best interest of its stakeholders,” Max Levit, president of Grocers Supply, said in the release. “We carefully selected C&S Wholesale Grocers as the best choice for our employees and customers because of C&S’s commitment to growth, operational excellence and service to independent grocers. We appreciate our loyal employees’ numerous accomplishments and look forward to seeing their future successes.”

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

On heels of AWI purchase, C&S acquires Grocers Supply

C&S Wholesale Grocers Inc. has agreed to acquire the wholesale distribution and supply business of the Grocers Supply Co. Inc. This news comes less than a week after its bid to purchase Associated Wholesalers Inc. was approved.

The new acquisition will include Grocers Supply’s warehouse and distribution operations in the Houston, Dallas and Rio Grande Valley areas along with its approximately 1,800 employees, but will not include any of Grocers Supply’s retail operations. The transaction is expected to close before the end of the year.

“The Grocers Supply Company has a century-long legacy of providing the highest level of service to its valued customers, which are primarily independent retailers and regional chains,” Rick Cohen, C&S Chairman and chief executive officer, said in a press release. “We very much look forward to partnering with the Grocers Supply team to continue this tradition and to expand the services and offerings available to its customers through the strength and scale of C&S. C&S is excited to enter the Southwestern United States market and to have the opportunity to service this growing and vital region.”

Grocers Supply distributes all major product lines, including produce, and is also known as one of the leading distributors of Hispanic grocery products in the country, focusing on Texas-made and Texas-grown products.

Grocers Supply’s largest customer is the Fiesta Mart chain of stores, which includes 60 retail locations and is one of the larger grocers in the country serving the Hispanic market.

“C&S is strongly committed to maintaining the service and product assortment that Grocers Supply’s loyal customers have come to expect,” Cohen said in the release. “This is an exciting opportunity for both companies, as well our customers and employees, as we combine the best aspects of Grocers Supply and C&S to produce a truly differentiated offering to the independent grocer.”

“As the Levit family planned for the next 100 years, with the goal of sustaining the Grocers Supply wholesale business, we determined that selling the wholesale business would be in the best interest of its stakeholders,” Max Levit, president of Grocers Supply, said in the release. “We carefully selected C&S Wholesale Grocers as the best choice for our employees and customers because of C&S’s commitment to growth, operational excellence and service to independent grocers. We appreciate our loyal employees’ numerous accomplishments and look forward to seeing their future successes.”

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

On heels of AWI purchase, C&S acquires Grocers Supply

C&S Wholesale Grocers Inc. has agreed to acquire the wholesale distribution and supply business of the Grocers Supply Co. Inc. This news comes less than a week after its bid to purchase Associated Wholesalers Inc. was approved.

The new acquisition will include Grocers Supply’s warehouse and distribution operations in the Houston, Dallas and Rio Grande Valley areas along with its approximately 1,800 employees, but will not include any of Grocers Supply’s retail operations. The transaction is expected to close before the end of the year.

“The Grocers Supply Company has a century-long legacy of providing the highest level of service to its valued customers, which are primarily independent retailers and regional chains,” Rick Cohen, C&S Chairman and chief executive officer, said in a press release. “We very much look forward to partnering with the Grocers Supply team to continue this tradition and to expand the services and offerings available to its customers through the strength and scale of C&S. C&S is excited to enter the Southwestern United States market and to have the opportunity to service this growing and vital region.”

Grocers Supply distributes all major product lines, including produce, and is also known as one of the leading distributors of Hispanic grocery products in the country, focusing on Texas-made and Texas-grown products.

Grocers Supply’s largest customer is the Fiesta Mart chain of stores, which includes 60 retail locations and is one of the larger grocers in the country serving the Hispanic market.

“C&S is strongly committed to maintaining the service and product assortment that Grocers Supply’s loyal customers have come to expect,” Cohen said in the release. “This is an exciting opportunity for both companies, as well our customers and employees, as we combine the best aspects of Grocers Supply and C&S to produce a truly differentiated offering to the independent grocer.”

“As the Levit family planned for the next 100 years, with the goal of sustaining the Grocers Supply wholesale business, we determined that selling the wholesale business would be in the best interest of its stakeholders,” Max Levit, president of Grocers Supply, said in the release. “We carefully selected C&S Wholesale Grocers as the best choice for our employees and customers because of C&S’s commitment to growth, operational excellence and service to independent grocers. We appreciate our loyal employees’ numerous accomplishments and look forward to seeing their future successes.”

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

C&S to acquire Grocers Supply

C&S Wholesale Grocers said Monday that it would buy the warehouse and distribution operations of Houston-based food distributor Grocers Supply Co. for an undisclosed price.

C&S said the acquisition will include Grocers Supply’s warehouse and distribution operations in the Houston, Dallas and Rio Grande Valley, Texas, areas along with its approximately 1,800 employees, but will not include any of Grocers Supply’s retail operations. The transaction is expected to close before year-end and is subject to customary closing conditions, including regulatory approvals.

Family-owned Grocers Supply distributes grocery, dairy, frozen, meat and produce to small chains and independents around Texas, and is one of the country’s largest distributors of Hispanic grocery products. Its largest customer is the 60-store Hispanic focused chain Fiesta Mart, which Grocers Supply will continue to own in partnership with Fiesta employees.

Grocers Supply did an estimated $ 2.9 billion in sales in 2013, making it the eighth largest food wholesaler in the U.S. and Canada, according to SN’s Top 75. C&S, with an estimated $ 21 billion in sales last year, is the largest. C&S last week won bankruptcy court approval to acquire Associated Wholesalers Inc., the ninth-largest U.S. wholesaler. It also last month reached an agreement to acquire the South Carolina-based parent of Piggly Wiggly Carolina and sell its remaining stores to independent operators.

“As the Levit Family planned for the next one hundred years, with the goal of sustaining the Grocers Supply wholesale business, we determined that selling the wholesale business would be in the best interest of its stakeholders. We carefully selected C&S Wholesale Grocers as the best choice for our employees and customers because of C&S’s commitment to growth, operational excellence, and service to independent grocers,” Max Levit, president of Grocers Supply, said in a statement. “We appreciate our loyal employees’ numerous accomplishments and look forward to seeing their future successes.”


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The Grocers Supply operations would be the first facilities in Texas for Keene, N,H.-based C&S.

“The Grocers Supply Co. has a century-long legacy of providing the highest level of service to its valued customers, which are primarily independent retailers and regional chains,” Rick Cohen, chairman and CEO of C&S. “We very much look forward to partnering with the Grocers Supply team to continue this tradition and to expand the services and offerings available to its customers through the strength and scale of C&S. C&S is excited to enter the Southwestern United States market and to have the opportunity to service this growing and vital region.”

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C&S Wholesale Grocers acquires Associated Wholesalers

C&S Wholesale Grocer’s bid to purchase Associated Wholesalers Inc. and its subsidiaries has been approved. AWI, a regional cooperative food distributor based in Robesonia, PA, operates two distribution centers in Pennsylvania and also provides retail services to its customers and members. Its subsidiaries include White Rose, which operates three distribution centers in New Jersey, and Nell’s Shurfine Markets, which operates four retail stores. The acquisition, expected to be finalized before Thanksgiving, would include substantially all of AWI/White Rose’s assets as well as their 2,200 employees.

“We are excited to have the opportunity to partner with Associated Wholesalers’ and White Rose’s strong team and customer base of independent grocers,” Rick Cohen, C&S chairman and chief executive officer, said in a press release. “My grandfather founded C&S to supply independent retailers, and while we now proudly service grocers of all sizes, this transaction will give us an even greater capacity to provide the unique services required by independents and regional chains.”

AWI entered into Chapter 11 bankruptcy Sept. 9, with C&S named as the “stalking horse” bidder, although SuperValu Inc. was also a bidder for AWI. Now that C&S’s bid has been approved, the transaction is expected to close on or about Nov. 11.

“Our first priority is to provide exceptional service to the customers, especially as we approach the holiday season,” Christopher Brown, C&S senior vice president of independent sales, said in the release. “We are committed to maintaining and enhancing the services provided to the numerous retailers who have relied on AWI and White Rose for their grocery supply needs.”

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

C&S Wholesale Grocers acquires Associated Wholesalers

C&S Wholesale Grocer’s bid to purchase Associated Wholesalers Inc. and its subsidiaries has been approved. AWI, a regional cooperative food distributor based in Robesonia, PA, operates two distribution centers in Pennsylvania and also provides retail services to its customers and members. Its subsidiaries include White Rose, which operates three distribution centers in New Jersey, and Nell’s Shurfine Markets, which operates four retail stores. The acquisition, expected to be finalized before Thanksgiving, would include substantially all of AWI/White Rose’s assets as well as their 2,200 employees.

“We are excited to have the opportunity to partner with Associated Wholesalers’ and White Rose’s strong team and customer base of independent grocers,” Rick Cohen, C&S chairman and chief executive officer, said in a press release. “My grandfather founded C&S to supply independent retailers, and while we now proudly service grocers of all sizes, this transaction will give us an even greater capacity to provide the unique services required by independents and regional chains.”

AWI entered into Chapter 11 bankruptcy Sept. 9, with C&S named as the “stalking horse” bidder, although SuperValu Inc. was also a bidder for AWI. Now that C&S’s bid has been approved, the transaction is expected to close on or about Nov. 11.

“Our first priority is to provide exceptional service to the customers, especially as we approach the holiday season,” Christopher Brown, C&S senior vice president of independent sales, said in the release. “We are committed to maintaining and enhancing the services provided to the numerous retailers who have relied on AWI and White Rose for their grocery supply needs.”

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

C&S Wholesale Grocers acquires Associated Wholesalers

C&S Wholesale Grocer’s bid to purchase Associated Wholesalers Inc. and its subsidiaries has been approved. AWI, a regional cooperative food distributor based in Robesonia, PA, operates two distribution centers in Pennsylvania and also provides retail services to its customers and members. Its subsidiaries include White Rose, which operates three distribution centers in New Jersey, and Nell’s Shurfine Markets, which operates four retail stores. The acquisition, expected to be finalized before Thanksgiving, would include substantially all of AWI/White Rose’s assets as well as their 2,200 employees.

“We are excited to have the opportunity to partner with Associated Wholesalers’ and White Rose’s strong team and customer base of independent grocers,” Rick Cohen, C&S chairman and chief executive officer, said in a press release. “My grandfather founded C&S to supply independent retailers, and while we now proudly service grocers of all sizes, this transaction will give us an even greater capacity to provide the unique services required by independents and regional chains.”

AWI entered into Chapter 11 bankruptcy Sept. 9, with C&S named as the “stalking horse” bidder, although SuperValu Inc. was also a bidder for AWI. Now that C&S’s bid has been approved, the transaction is expected to close on or about Nov. 11.

“Our first priority is to provide exceptional service to the customers, especially as we approach the holiday season,” Christopher Brown, C&S senior vice president of independent sales, said in the release. “We are committed to maintaining and enhancing the services provided to the numerous retailers who have relied on AWI and White Rose for their grocery supply needs.”

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

C&S Wholesale Grocers acquires Associated Wholesalers

C&S Wholesale Grocer’s bid to purchase Associated Wholesalers Inc. and its subsidiaries has been approved. AWI, a regional cooperative food distributor based in Robesonia, PA, operates two distribution centers in Pennsylvania and also provides retail services to its customers and members. Its subsidiaries include White Rose, which operates three distribution centers in New Jersey, and Nell’s Shurfine Markets, which operates four retail stores. The acquisition, expected to be finalized before Thanksgiving, would include substantially all of AWI/White Rose’s assets as well as their 2,200 employees.

“We are excited to have the opportunity to partner with Associated Wholesalers’ and White Rose’s strong team and customer base of independent grocers,” Rick Cohen, C&S chairman and chief executive officer, said in a press release. “My grandfather founded C&S to supply independent retailers, and while we now proudly service grocers of all sizes, this transaction will give us an even greater capacity to provide the unique services required by independents and regional chains.”

AWI entered into Chapter 11 bankruptcy Sept. 9, with C&S named as the “stalking horse” bidder, although SuperValu Inc. was also a bidder for AWI. Now that C&S’s bid has been approved, the transaction is expected to close on or about Nov. 11.

“Our first priority is to provide exceptional service to the customers, especially as we approach the holiday season,” Christopher Brown, C&S senior vice president of independent sales, said in the release. “We are committed to maintaining and enhancing the services provided to the numerous retailers who have relied on AWI and White Rose for their grocery supply needs.”

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Natural Grocers continues focus on store growth

Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage ,Lakewood, Colo., said Thursday it will continue to focus on new-store investments, including infrastructure, to support future growth.

The company said it plans to continue 20% unit growth into next year, with plans to open 18 new stores in fiscal 2015, compared with 15 scheduled to open this year.

Kemper Isely, co-president, said the company also plans to control expenses and maintain profitability while growing its store base. “We have clear direction on how we intend to manage expenses and margin going forward while we work on various initiatives to increase sales,” he said.

“We are excited about the increasing demand for natural and organic food and believe this supports the growth opportunity we see ahead of us.”

Net income for the third quarter ended June 30 rose 16.6% to $ 3.4 million, while sales increased 18.4% to $ 134 million and comparable store sales increased 3.1%. For the year to date, net income climbed 23.6% to $ 10.3 million and sales grew 22% to $ 385 million, with comps increasing 6.3%.

Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage operates 84 stores in 14 states, including 12 stores opened through the first three quarters and three more set to open during the fourth quarter. The company said it has seven signed leases for stores set to open in fiscal 2015 in Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, Nevada and Oklahoma.

Supermarket News

Michigan grocers select award winners

This week the Michigan Grocers Association announced that Hal Neiman of Neiman’s Family Markets, and Country Fresh Dairy are the recipients of its 2014 Al Kessel Outstanding Achievement Awards.

“MGA created the awards last year to honor the memory of former MGA board member Al Kessel, who passed away in December 2012,” said MGA president and CEO Linda M. Gobler, in a statement. “To reflect his generous spirit, the awards recognize the company, industry and community achievements of one Outstanding Retailer and one Outstanding Business Partner.

Hal Neiman, founder of the Alpena, Mich.-based retailer,  was described in his nomination as “very hard-working, having exceptional care and concern for his employees … [and] constantly involved in local communities.” In 2013, Neiman’s Family Markets held a Community Growth Fundraising Initiative in celebration of the retailer’s 30th anniversary, which raised $ 23,500, which was donated to nonprofit organizations. Neiman has been named Alpena’s Outstanding Citizen, and was appointed by the governor to the Michigan Beef Industry Commission.

Neiman’s Family Markets has stores in Alpena, Tawas, St. Clair and Clarkston.

The Outstanding Business Partner is Country Fresh Dairy of Grand Rapids. Founded in 1949 by a group on independent grocers, it is now a part of Dean Foods and partners with more than 200 Michigan dairies.

“The company has invested much time, money and additional resources to strengthen security, traceability and sanitation. Those are things you’d like to take for granted in products, but you really can’t,” said Gobler.

Country Fresh Dairy has also received awards for its outstanding safety and health record from the Michigan OSHA.

The awards will be presented Sept. 14 at the MGA Fall Conference in Traverse City, Mich.

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Michigan grocers select award winners

This week the Michigan Grocers Association announced that Hal Neiman of Neiman’s Family Markets, and Country Fresh Dairy are the recipients of its 2014 Al Kessel Outstanding Achievement Awards.

“MGA created the awards last year to honor the memory of former MGA board member Al Kessel, who passed away in December 2012,” said MGA president and CEO Linda M. Gobler, in a statement. “To reflect his generous spirit, the awards recognize the company, industry and community achievements of one Outstanding Retailer and one Outstanding Business Partner.

Hal Neiman, founder of the Alpena, Mich.-based retailer,  was described in his nomination as “very hard-working, having exceptional care and concern for his employees … [and] constantly involved in local communities.” In 2013, Neiman’s Family Markets held a Community Growth Fundraising Initiative in celebration of the retailer’s 30th anniversary, which raised $ 23,500, which was donated to nonprofit organizations. Neiman has been named Alpena’s Outstanding Citizen, and was appointed by the governor to the Michigan Beef Industry Commission.

Neiman’s Family Markets has stores in Alpena, Tawas, St. Clair and Clarkston.

The Outstanding Business Partner is Country Fresh Dairy of Grand Rapids. Founded in 1949 by a group on independent grocers, it is now a part of Dean Foods and partners with more than 200 Michigan dairies.

“The company has invested much time, money and additional resources to strengthen security, traceability and sanitation. Those are things you’d like to take for granted in products, but you really can’t,” said Gobler.

Country Fresh Dairy has also received awards for its outstanding safety and health record from the Michigan OSHA.

The awards will be presented Sept. 14 at the MGA Fall Conference in Traverse City, Mich.

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Unified Grocers names new VP of logistics

Unified Grocers Inc. announced that Vic Versino has joined the company as vice president of logistics. He joins the company from DVD rental kiosk company Redbox, where he was vice president of logistics and inventory, responsible for streamlining and automating distribution operations. Previously, Versino held logistics leadership positions with Supervalu, Kellogg and Martin Brower/McDonald’s.

vicpicVic VersinoVersino takes over the position previously held by John Wiedmann, who recently announced his retirement from the company. Versino will oversee company-wide distribution, transportation and maintenance functions. He will be responsible for developing logistics and distribution strategies to ensure the needs of its members are met.

Versino will report to Bob Ling, Unified’s president and chief executive officer.

“Vic is an accomplished executive who brings a wealth of experience in food distribution. Unified is extremely fortunate to have a man of Vic’s experience and caliber as a member of our officer team,” Ling said in a press release. “Logistics is a key part of our business and vital to our growth plans. I’m confident Vic will carry on the tremendous work John Wiedmann and his team have done to help drive sales and reduce expenses.”

As vice president of supply chain for Supervalu Eastern Region, Versino managed logistics operations for three large distribution centers and oversaw a workforce of more than 1,500 employees. As senior director of DSD Operations for Kellogg, he managed logistics services for 45 distribution centers. In this role, he was responsible for implementing operations and technology improvements across Kellogg’s distribution network. He implemented Lean process improvement initiatives and instituted KPI standards.

Versino started his career with Martin-Bower Co., a third-party logistics company responsible for managing logistics for McDonald’s franchises. He started as a shift manager and worked his way up to president of the Latin America division, where he managed operations for nine distribution centers in Mexico, Puerto Rico, Panama, Costa Rica, Guatemala and Brazil.

Versino holds a bachelor’s degree in business and logistics from Penn State University.

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Unified Grocers and Charlie’s Produce team up to grow sales

Unified Grocers has named Charlie’s Produce as its exclusive partner in all produce categories for Unified’s independent retail customers operating stores in Oregon, Washington and Alaska. Retail customers of Unified in the Pacific Northwest will now have more than 5,500 fresh produce items available, as well as a broad assortment of specialty and prepared produce, floral and home meal replacement products.

“This new program enables our independent retailers to compete more effectively and differentiate their stores through a wide variety of quality, fresh produce,” Bob Ling, president and chief executive officer of Unified Grocers, said in a press release. “It also simplifies billing by consolidating statements and providing incentives for our retailers’ continued purchases through Unified and Charlie’s.”

Charlie’s daily delivery of a line of organic and local produce enables Unified’s customers to meet shoppers’ growing demand for quality organic offerings. Independent SQF Certification of Charlie’s processing facilities assures buyers that items are produced, processed and handled according to high standards.

“At Charlie’s, we pride ourselves on developing long-term partnerships that are built on trust and guaranteed customer satisfaction,” Charlie Billow, chief executive officer of Charlie’s Produce, said in the release. “Combining the strength of the largest retailer-owned wholesale grocery distributor in the western United States with the largest produce company on the West Coast creates a new innovative, dynamic force in the marketplace. We are confident that Unified and its retailers will prosper from our relationship and the high level of service and quality that have made Charlie’s — and our customers — successful for more than 35 years.”

Many of Unified’s current produce employees will remain on Unified’s staff — or may join Charlie’s organization. Unified will continue to service Cash & Carry stores in the Pacific Northwest from the company’s Portland, OR, produce facility.

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