- C&S Wholesale Grocers has named Mike Duffy as its new CEO, according to a news release. He will assume the role on January 8 of next year.
- Duffy’s 20-year career has included roles at Cardinal Health and Procter & Gamble. He most recently served as Cardinal Health’s president of global manufacturing and supply chain.
- Rick Cohen, C&S’s current CEO, will focus on his role of executive chairman of the board, leading the organization’s growth and innovation strategy. “[Mike] brings with him world class leadership and commercial skills and is an experienced operator with supply chain capabilities in procurement, warehouse management, logistics, and distribution,” Cohen said in the release.
Duffy takes the helm at the nation’s largest wholesaler at a time of significant change for the industry. Consumer demand for fresh and specialty products is higher than ever, while grocery operators are battling one another on price and quickly expanding into online shopping.
It all adds up to a significant opportunity for wholesalers, which are evolving their operations and consolidating at a rapid pace. The major players, including Supervalu, United Natural Foods and SpartanNash have all made significant acquisitions in the past year or two.
Supervalu’s $375 million purchase of purchase of Unified Grocers earlier this year expanded the company’s reach to the West Coast, while UNFI last year bought three smaller distributors that deepened its sourcing of high-margin fresh and specialty foods: Haddon House, Nor-Cal Produce and Gourmet Guru. SpartanNash acquired Caito Foods a year ago for $217.5 million in an effort to boost its distribution of fresh and prepared foods.
C&S, which supplies 14,000 independent stores, grocery chains and other retail outlets, hasn’t been very active lately. Its most recent acquisition came last March, when it acquired Hawaii’s Edsung Foodservice Company. Prior to that, in 2014, it acquired Piggly Wiggly Carolina along with Associated Wholesalers, Inc., a struggling northeastern distributor.
All told, C&S’s nearly $30 billion in yearly revenue is nearly double that of its closest competitors, Supervalu and Wakefern. The company holds a commanding position, but could see that threatened as its competitors continue to grow. It’s entirely possible that a major deal could disrupt the industry, with Bloomberg, among other sources, seeing big opportunities through continued consolidation.