KROGER JOINS RANKS AS GMDC EXPANDS

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- Faced with industry consolidations, the General Merchandise Distributors Council is moving ahead to expand its membership among major food chains, wholesalers and service merchandisers.This month, Kroger Co. became the latest major chain to strengthen the association's ranks. GMDC hopes to recruit six to eight new companies a year, as it has each year for the past 12 years,

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- Faced with industry consolidations, the General Merchandise Distributors Council is moving ahead to expand its membership among major food chains, wholesalers and service merchandisers.

This month, Kroger Co. became the latest major chain to strengthen the association's ranks. GMDC hopes to recruit six to eight new companies a year, as it has each year for the past 12 years, according to Rick Tilton, GMDC's president.

Over the next several years, the association's goal is to expand its membership by half beyond the current 125- to 130-member roster, said Tilton.

Members now consist of 25 to 30 retailers, 80 wholesalers and 20 rack jobbers, he added.

"Anytime there is a merger and acquisition we lose a dues-paying member, but we don't lose him as a participant because he continues to attend our conferences under a [company] subsidiary or division."

The addition of new members will have a positive impact on the format of GMDC's marketing meetings, which consist of tabletop conferences between buyers and suppliers, Tilton added.

He said the likelihood of new retailers signing up as members outweighs new wholesalers coming on board, as "most of the wholesalers are already members of GMDC."

One project of GMDC, its Category Manual, is nearing completion. When finished later this year, it will cover some 31 or 32 major nonfood categories.