RETAILERS URGED TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF INDUSTRY CHANGES

ATLANTA -- At the Food Distributors International Annual Business Conference and Partners Program held here this month, wholesalers and independent retailers were urged to take advantage of a series of major industry changes."You've got to address the vast changes that are taking place within our industry and not only adapt to them, but figure out how to turn them into an advantage," said John R.

ATLANTA -- At the Food Distributors International Annual Business Conference and Partners Program held here this month, wholesalers and independent retailers were urged to take advantage of a series of major industry changes.

"You've got to address the vast changes that are taking place within our industry and not only adapt to them, but figure out how to turn them into an advantage," said John R. Block, president FDI, in a speech at the conference. Block stressed that competition is at increasingly intense levels and consolidation is on the front burner. He touched upon the acquisitive trend among wholesalers today as they focus on retail operations. In addition, consolidation leads to fewer and larger players in both the retail and wholesale sectors, and the continuing trend has "profound implications" for the industry, he said.

Block stressed the importance of political action and solidarity, saying that smart management of individual companies is not enough.

"FDI continues to combat issues like OSHA's proposed ergonomics regulation, and to seek important legislative victories, such as a repeal of the federal estate tax," he said.

Robert Emmons, outgoing chairman of FDI, also spoke about the future of the industry in the new technological age.

"New technology and changing consumer lifestyles are combining to require bold and imaginative responses from companies and their leaders if they wish to survive," he said.

Emmons said the industry must take advantage of the new breed of customer. He said operators must develop an offensive business approach to expand the customer base.

FDI is currently working on two studies to guide member companies into the future. Foodservice 2010 is a follow-up to the original Foodservice 2005. In addition, FDI is completing an in-depth study of Retail Coverage and In-Store Implementation, according to Emmons and Block.