AWG Bows New Gulf Coast Div.

Associated Wholesale Grocers, Inc. (AWG) has begun shipping all product categories to member stores from its newly opened seventh division in Pearl River, La.

Noting that the newly constructed facility will eventually service over 300 stores along the I-10 corridor, Jerry Garland, AWG’s president and CEO, said: “As a member owned cooperative, our only objective is to provide our retailers with the highest quality food products at the lowest possible cost, so family-owned independent grocers can compete in their marketplace.”

AWG’s closet regional facility is located in Memphis, which is over 300 miles from the new Pearl River depot. AWG had earlier indicated that this move would save over $5 million annually in freight charges to stores and eliminate over three million miles.

With over 723,000 square feet of space, AWG’s Gulf Coast division, which adds an estimated 300 jobs to the southern Louisiana area, will offer over 20,000 different food items, including dry grocery, frozen food, ice cream, dairy, fluid milk, meat, fresh seafood, produce, floral, bakery, deli and supplies. Product offerings will also include many locally produced items including all seasonally caught Gulf seafood available.

“Grocery retailers in our new division couldn’t be happier,” said David Smith, SVP and Gulf Coast division manager, including Brad Ramey, owner of the 11-store, Purvis, Miss.-based Ramey’s, Inc. “Since becoming a member of AWG,” said Ramey, “our company has more than doubled in size and sales. This new Louisiana warehouse will reduce my delivery cost by 35 to 50 percent, making us more competitive and [in turn] free up capital for us to grow through new stores and remodeling.”

Meanwhile, E.L. Vowell, owner of the 12-store Triple V, Inc., Louisville, Miss., said: “Through the years, AWG has proved itself as a valuable supply partner…we are excited to see what the future holds for our company.”

Added Dale Trahan, owner of three Piggly Wiggly stores based out of Rayne, La.: “We are very excited about this new AWG warehouse in South Louisiana. It will bring us more efficient deliveries, better variety, improved freshness and a cheaper cost of goods. This will benefit us and our loyal customers for years to come.”

With annual sales approaching $8 billion, the Kansas City, Kan.-based AWG is the second largest food distribution and the sixth largest grocery co-op in the country. AWG’s existing full-line distribution centers are located in: Kansas City; Springfield, Mo.; Oklahoma City, Okla.; Memphis and Nashville, Tenn.; and Fort Worth; Texas. AWG currently has over 600 member-owners and services over 2,450 retail outlets in 22-states.

 Members of AWG's new Gulf Coast division executive team include (from left) Michael Yakovsky, director of fresh foods; David Smith, SVP/division manager; Bob Durand, VP, sales and marketing; and Jack Wall, director of center store,

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