EDITOR'S NOTE: This article was updated on Thursday, March 26, to include C&S Wholesale's new partnership with Performance Food Group.
C&S Wholesale Grocers is teaming up with foodservice distributors US Foods and Performance Food Group to address supply and job imbalances in the grocery and foodservice industries brought by the coronavirus pandemic.
Similarly, Albertsons Cos. is partnering with 17 companies in the restaurant and hospitality sectors to hire workers displaced by business shutdowns in those industries as states and municipalities face the spread of COVID-19.
The C&S-US Foods partnership pairs the nation’s largest grocery distributor with its second-largest foodservice wholesaler. Keene, N.H.-based C&S, in announcing the alliance Tuesday, said the initiative will ease potential worker shortages arising from escalating food retail demand by transferring employees at US Foods — which is grappling with plummeting demand in the foodservice sector — to similar job functions at C&S.
“We are very excited about our partnership with US Foods, which will keep the food supply chain strong despite challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Mike Duffy, CEO of C&S Wholesale Grocers. “We are taking the steps necessary to on-board and train members of US Foods’ workforce to ensure our warehouses are staffed and deliveries are on the road, enabling families access to food across the country.”
C&S supplies more than 7,700 independent supermarkets, chain stores, military bases and institutions with over 137,000 products.
“We are vigilantly monitoring this situation around the clock and are in constant communication with government authorities and industry associations to ensure that we are doing everything possible to make sure everyone has access to food,” Duffy added. “We're thankful to have members of the US Foods team join us in keeping operations moving and store shelves stocked.”
Rosemont, Ill.-based US Foods noted that mounting restrictions imposed by federal and state government in response to coronavirus are changing Americans’ consumption behaviors, resulting in rising grocery purchases and much less dining out. The company works with about 300,000 restaurants and foodservice operators through its more than 70 locations.
“We are proud to be working with C&S Wholesale Grocers as their role in our communities increases in importance,” commented Pietro Satriano, chairman and CEO of US Foods. “This partnership is an excellent example of the ways in which we are leveraging our distribution capabilities in new ways to support our nation's retailers and we value this important opportunity.”
The C&S partnership with Richmond, Va.-based Performance Food Group will enable C&S to leverage PFG’s workforce to help handle the extensive increases in food and product needs in local communities around the country.
“Our communities have always been at the heart of our business,” said Duffy. “In partnering with Performance Food Group, we are in a better position to fulfill our commitment to ensuring grocery store shelves are stocked and families around the country have access to food and other necessities during these unsettling and unpredictable times.”
“We are excited to partner with C&S Wholesale Grocers during this critical time for our country’s food supply chain,” said George Holm, PFG chairman, president and CEO. “Our talented associates have valuable expertise in food distribution and we are proud that they will continue to play a vital role in keeping families fed. This is one of the many ways that PFG can utilize our people and assets to support our local communities as we all weather this period of disruption.”
This partnership is effective immediately with 35 PFG employees across two states starting this week. Over the coming days and weeks, more employees will be joining C&S, the companies said.
Retail jobs for restaurant workers
Meanwhile, Boise, Idaho-based Albertsons announced late Monday that it aims to provide part-time jobs to restaurant and hospitality businesses that have been compelled to close or scale back operations, furlough employees or cut hours amid the COVID-19 crisis.
To that end, Albertsons said it has secured partnerships with 17 companies, including ASM Global, BJ’s Restaurants, G6 Hospitality, Hilton, Inspire Brands, Marriott International, MGM Resorts, Regal Cinemas and G6 Hospitality, among others.
Plans call for Albertsons to immediately hire 30,000 part-time associates. Dedicated application sites have been set up for employees from partner companies, which will provide links when they notify their employees about the opportunity for part-time employment with Albertsons.
Supermarkets have been deemed “critical infrastructure” by the federal government and are required to operate during the pandemic, Albertsons noted. The company said it understands that most people hired will return to their previous jobs when the crisis ends.
“The most valuable asset and the core of any business is people, and we are working hard with many human resource teams across a variety of businesses, who are actively defining next steps for their employees,” Albertsons Cos. President and CEO Vivek Sankaran said in a statement. “So many businesses in the hospitality and retail sectors are scaling back hours or temporarily closing as their customers remain home and adhere to shelter-in-place orders. We are grateful to be a resource to help fill a critical need in our own business and take care of people who want to continue working during this time of national emergency.”
Overall, Albertsons Cos. operates more than 2,200 food and drugstores in 34 states and the District of Columbia under 20 banners, including Albertsons, Safeway, Vons, Jewel-Osco, Shaw’s, Acme, Tom Thumb, Randalls, United Supermarkets, Pavilions, Star Market, Haggen and Carrs.
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