United Natural Loses Shaw’s Business

Natural and organics wholesaler United Natural Foods here said yesterday it had lost its supply business with Shaw’s, the New England chain that was acquired last year by Minneapolis-based Supervalu.

DAYVILLE, Conn. — Natural and organics wholesaler United Natural Foods here said yesterday it had lost its supply business with Shaw’s, the New England chain that was acquired last year by Minneapolis-based Supervalu. The loss of the business nearly cut in half United’s sales growth in the supermarket channel for the quarter, the company said. Growth in supermarket distribution was up 6.6%, vs. 12.4% growth projected if it had retained the Shaw’s business, said Michael Funk, president and chief executive officer, United, in a conference call with analysts discussing results for the first fiscal quarter, which ended Oct. 27. United’s business in the “supernatural” channel, which included Whole Foods and Wild Oats — the two chains merged during the quarter — rose 22.5% in the period. Supply to independents was up 9.7%. Net income in the first quarter was also up about 9.7%, to 13.6 million, on sales growth of 13.9%, to $736.4 million.

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