C&S Wholesale Grocers was the high bidder in a marathon auction for the assets of Associated Wholesalers Inc.
A judge in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Del., has approved an offer totaling $288 million, which the Keene, N.H.-based distributor submitted more than 12 hours after the court-supervised auction began, sources told SN. The offer outbid rival Supervalu, the only other qualified bidder for AWI. AWI assets encompass an independent distribution business based in Robesonia, Pa., and New Jersey-based White Rose, a voluntary wholesaler serving Northeast chains including Fairway Market and Met Foods.
C&S said the sale is expected to close on Nov. 11. A Supervalu spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.
The winning bid was nearly $100 million more than the “stalking horse” offer C&S made at the time that AWI filed for bankruptcy protection with the intention of selling itself in early September.
“The auction process was robust and competitive and we believe that the winning bid from C&S is in the best interest of AWI and its stakeholders,” Matt Saunders, president and CEO of AWI, said in a statement. “C&S shares AWI’s commitment to providing customers and independent stores great deals on products and on helping them grow their businesses.”
Until the transaction closes, AWI and White Rose will continue to operate independently of C&S.
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“We are excited to have the opportunity to partner with Associated Wholesalers’ and White Rose’s strong team and customer base of independent grocers,” Rick Cohen, C&S chairman and CEO, said. “My grandfather founded C&S to supply independent retailers, and while we now proudly service grocers of all sizes, this transaction will give us an even greater capacity to provide the unique services required by independents and regional chains.”
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