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AWI Names Saunders CEO, Will Sell White Rose Subsidiary

Associated Wholesalers, Inc. (AWI) has named Matthew Saunders president/CEO, following the retirement of J. Christopher Michael, effective immediately. 

“In his 34 years as CEO, Chris has played an important role in building AWI into one of the nation’s leading wholesale cooperatives,” said Joyce Fasula and Mike Rothwell, chairman and vice-chairman of the AWI board, respectively. “We are also pleased to have an executive as talented as Matt ready to assume the CEO role. Matt is a proven leader with extensive experience in our industry, and we are confident that he is the right person to steer AWI into its next phase of growth and development.”

Michael will remain with AWI as chairman emeritus to help oversee a smooth leadership transition. Saunders joined AWI as EVP and COO in 2012. He previously served in leadership roles at Merchants Distributors Inc. and Supervalu.

White Rose for Sale

AWI also announced today that its board of directors has decided to pursue a sale of its White Rose Food subsidiary. This action is a key part of steps AWI is taking to set a strategic direction that will provide the cooperative wholesaler with the opportunity to refocus on its core legacy business.

White Rose Food is the largest independent wholesale food distributor in the New York metropolitan area servicing a territory ranging from lower New England to upper Virginia from three core product divisions – grocery, dairy and frozen. It was acquired by AWI in 2006.

“After extensive analysis, our board has determined that this is the right time to identify a suitable buyer for White Rose,” said Fasula and Rothwell. “Through this sale process, we intend to position White Rose for a fresh beginning under a new owner. A sale of White Rose will give AWI the opportunity to get back to our co-op roots, with a sharp focus on growing the core business.”

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