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Verdi out at C&S as Cohen takes back control

Mark Verdi, appointed to a key role as president of C&S Wholesale Grocers less than a year ago, has left the company, according to a memo obtained by SN Friday.

Rick Cohen, C&S’s CEO and chairman, in the memo said he was retaking day-to-day control of the company.

Mark Verdi
Mark Verdi

“Our business is strong and growing, and I see tremendous opportunity ahead of us,” Cohen said in the memo. “In my forty years here, I have never been more optimistic about our prospects. In looking towards our future, I am particularly excited about taking an active part in the development of our people and organizational capabilities, including a strong internal succession planning process.”

Verdi, an experienced global finance and operations executive, came to the country’s largest grocery wholesaler from Bain Capital last March. His 10-month tenure at C&S included acquisitions of both Associated Wholesalers Inc. and Grocers Supply Co. — the country’s 8th and 9th largest wholesalers, respectively, according to SN’s Top 75.

Industry observers speculated that C&S’s failure to retain some of the retail customers that came along with those wholesale acquisitions may have been a factor in Verdi’s departure. Burt P. Flickinger III, managing director of Strategic Resource Group, told SN that competitive bidding for both assets raised prices, and rivals who lost out on the distribution subsequently picked some customers without longterm supply agreements.


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“With those [acquisition] situations being very competitive, with other wholesalers going after those acquired company’s customers, it can lead to some tougher transitions,” Flickinger said.

Another source said Verdi — a consultant with little food industry experience prior to joining C&S — may have been overwhelmed with the intricacies of the industry.

“Rick Cohen and his team have built a phenomenal business, but I’m told he has a view that if you bring in the right talent from the outside, it could launch them forward into a different paradigm organizationally,” Jose Tamez, an executive recruiter for Austin Michaels, told SN. “This can be difficult for companies whose successes are so tied to the legacy of how they do things. With that, a new hire’s chance of making fundamental change becomes inhibited.”

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