RICHFOOD OUTLINES NORRISTOWN WHOLESALE'S PLACE

MECHANICSVILLE, Va. -- The acquisition of produce distributor Norristown Wholesale, Norristown, Pa., will help Richfood Holdings here become the largest procurer of produce on the East Coast, said Richfood officials.Immediately, however, the acquisition allows the wholesaler to concentrate on "taking care of our current customers" by better meeting their produce needs, said Stuart Newton, senior vice

MECHANICSVILLE, Va. -- The acquisition of produce distributor Norristown Wholesale, Norristown, Pa., will help Richfood Holdings here become the largest procurer of produce on the East Coast, said Richfood officials.

Immediately, however, the acquisition allows the wholesaler to concentrate on "taking care of our current customers" by better meeting their produce needs, said Stuart Newton, senior vice president and chief financial officer at Richfood.

"We're just looking to move forward what's in place now, and improve on that," Newton said, when asked how purchasing Norristown Wholesale, a wholesale distributor of produce and other perishables, will affect Richfood's own fresh foods capability in the region.

The new produce arm allows the voluntary wholesaler to expand beyond the grocery distribution capability it acquired in the Pennsylvania area last year, which was the former Super Rite operation in Harrisburg, Pa.

While Super Rite Corp. was "just into dry groceries," Newton said, Norristown is a "full-line distributor of produce" that enables Richfood to carry between 1,200 and 1,500 produce items.

While the company had been looking for a way to enter the produce business in Pennsylvania, this is only one part of a larger plan, according to Newton. Richfood hopes soon to take advantage of the acquisition to make the move into the meat industry in Pennsylvania as well.

According to company officials, the Richfood produce operation will be run from the existing Norristown facility, and no staff reductions or layoffs are anticipated.

Not counting the new acquisition, Richfood currently operates a 1.3 million-square-foot distribution center here; a 1 million-square-foot warehouse in Harrisburg; and a 6.3 million-cubic-foot automated frozen food distribution center in West Point, Pa.