Barry Queen, chairman of Associated Wholesale Grocers, urged the cooperative distributor’s independent retailer-owners to make their customer their top priority during an address at the co-op’s annual meeting last week in Overland Park, Kan.
“I challenge each of you to take a hard look at your organizational chart. If you don’t have the ‘customer’ at the top of that chart, followed by those that deal most closely with the customer, then something is wrong,” Queen said. “Customer service is still an element that differentiates us from our competition, so we better embrace it, believe it and live it.”
AWG, Kansas City, Kan., reported annual sales in the fiscal year of $9.2 billion, an increase of 2.7%. Year-end patronage distribution was more than $201.7 million, a new record, or nearly 2.8% of qualifying sales, AWG said. AWG and its general merchandise subsidiary Valu Merchandisers Co., operate 11 distribution centers, serving more than 3,800 retail outlets, representing more than $20 billion in retail supermarket sales.
Total distribution to AWG members including promotional allowances, year-end patronage and interest was $546 million, the company said. Stock value increased to $2,000 per share, up by 4.4% over 2016. Total members’ investment and equity ended the year at $544 million, up 14%, indicative of AWG’s strong balance sheet, AWG said.
“This is your company and we serve only one master in this business — our member retailers. Our ongoing mission is to provide our member-retailers all the tools, products, and services they need to compete favorably in all markets served,” David Smith, president and CEO said. “This includes top quality supermarket merchandise and support services, all at the lowest possible cost.”