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Delhaize Streamlines Brokers

SALISBURY, N.C. — Delhaize America here has implemented a new "preferred broker" program that it hopes will make its category management and buying functions more efficient.

The company, parent of the Food Lion, Hannaford Bros. and Sweetbay banners, has issued a list of 33 approved sales agencies — down from about 150 it has been working with — that will be permitted to call on the company's buyers going forward.

"We wanted to be as efficient as possible, and align ourselves with the most powerful group of brokers that we could find that we are already working with," said Mark Doiron, chief supply officer, Delhaize America, in an interview with SN. "That is what started this very long and rigorous process."

The effort, he explained, grew out of the company's consolidation of the category management functions at Delhaize, which was completed in July. Brokers were evaluated on a range of criteria, Doiron said, including their knowledge of local markets and their performance expertise.

Some sales-agency executives contacted by SN were surprised that Advantage Sales and Marketing, Irvine, Calif., one the "big three" national brokers, was not on the list. Doiron said Delhaize "knew the process would be difficult" for some involved, but declined to discuss specific details about companies affected. Both Acosta Sales & Marketing and Crossmark, the other two national agencies, are on the the list of preferred brokers.

The transition of vendors to the Preferred Broker Network is expected to be "substantially completed" by the start of 2012.