BRATTLEBORO, Vt. -- C&S Wholesale Grocers here took steps last week to consolidate the New England businesses it acquired earlier this month in its asset exchange with Supervalu, Minneapolis.
C&S said it would form a new division to serve the small, independent retailers, particularly the members of IGA, Chicago, whose distribution business C&S took over from Supervalu.
In addition, industry sources told SN C&S plans to sell nine of the 24 New England stores it acquired from Supervalu.
Mark Gross, C&S' executive vice president, explained that the company has hired former New England-based representatives of Supervalu to work as business counselors for the company's independent customers.
"We are expanding our service to this important part of our business," he said. "We are looking forward to making each of these independents braggingly happy customers."
A pair of small, independent retailers told SN last week they were optimistic about C&S' potential, although neither said he'd had in-depth discussions with the distributor.
Marshall Clark, president, Clark's IGA, Londonberry, Vt., said he had one meeting so far with C&S' representatives. "They had no information," he noted. "At this point, we don't know what's going on."
However, Clark said he has been receiving product normally from the distributor. "They say they will be offering everything Supervalu offered, and we are hopeful that everything is going to work out."
Similarly, Brian Busier, president, Lantman's IGA, Hinesburg, Vt., said, "I'm anticipating good results from this."
He noted that his first meeting with a C&S representative was scheduled to take place this week. "We'll see what course of action they'll take, which distribution centers they'll operate out of," he said.
Busier added that he knows a two-store operator in St. Johnsbury, Vt., that is supplied by C&S. "I think they can handle our business as well as Supervalu did," he said. "I think the deal with C&S is promising."
Meanwhile, industry sources said that before the asset swap, Supervalu had arranged to sell nine of its New England stores and that C&S, which has not yet taken possession of any of the Supervalu units, would carry through with the transaction.
The sources declined to identify which stores were being sold or the identity of the buyer.
Supervalu told SN the asset exchange with C&S included six stores operating in Massachusetts and Rhode Island under the Rojack's banner, nine operating in Vermont under the Butson's banner, and nine operating in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut under the Cash & Carry banner.