Associated Grocers Hits 70

SEATTLE - Today marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of Associated Grocers, Inc. (AG), a full-service wholesaler providing food, general merchandise, and retail services to stores throughout Washington, Oregon, Alaska, Hawaii, and Guam.

AG's yearlong anniversary celebration will acknowledge the independent retailers, team members, and vendor partners that have contributed to the success of the company and the communities they serve. Currently employing more than 800 people at its South Seattle, Renton, and Clackamas facilities, AG's customer list includes such key regional players as Alaska Commercial Co., Brown & Cole, Central Market, Fuller's, Haggen, Larry's Markets, Market Place, Metropolitan Markets, Neighborhood Market, Pay-Less Supermarkets, Red Apple Markets, Roth's, Thriftway, and Zupan's Markets.

In addition to a party today at company lunchrooms, featuring posters, balloons, cake, and appearances by AG president and c.e.o. Bob Hermanns, "there will be 70th anniversary tie-ins to other AG activities throughout the year," AG spokesman Bob Hutchins told Progressive Grocer, including:

-The 2004 Associated Grocers, Inc. Trade Show, which will be held at Qwest Event Center, in Seattle on Sept. 22-Sept. 23. The show's 70th anniversary theme is subtitled "Traditional Values—Progressive Ideas." The show brochure, signage, and events will incorporate the 70th anniversary theme, with images, trivia, and prize drawings relating to the seven decades of AG's history.

-The fall edition of the company's AGenda newsletter will feature a special company historical milestone foldout.

-The company's annual meeting activities will incorporate the 70th anniversary theme in its presentation materials.

Throughout its history AG has helped its customers to surmount the many obstacles independent operators face in competition with the large chains. "As we chart our course for future success, it is important that we celebrate the history that has built the organization and made us stronger over time," said Hermanns in a statement.

According to Hutchins, AG has established the following five business initiatives to ensure future success: Create and facilitate retail growth by supporting the needs of successful customers, develop key product categories, engineer retail business systems for efficiency and effectiveness, align AG and retail resources and behaviors with strategic priorities, and create external growth through corporate development initiatives. In line with this strategy, AG recently said that it will be the primary supplier of Haggen Food & Pharmacy and Top Food & Drug's grocery and meat products, a transition that is expected to be completed in October.

Reflecting on what qualities have enabled AG to survive to 70 and would keep it going strong in years to come, Hutchins said: "AG has always been responsive to changing market conditions -- listening to our customers and evolving our business strategy to ensure our customers' success."

He continued: "The grocery industry continues to react to changing consumer buying patterns and blurring of trade channels (more alternative locations to purchase grocery products). Wholesalers need to be helpful in educating their customers about changes in buying patterns and ensuring their retailers' 'go-to-market' strategies are strong enough for them to survive in the increasingly competitive marketplace."

Through its distribution centers, AG procures and distributes a comprehensive assortment of perishable and nonperishable commodities, among them grocery, meat, produce, deli, natural, specialty, ethnic, service deli, service bakery, general merchandise, and health and beauty care.

--Bridget Goldschmidt
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