Gristedes Becomes Wakefern Wholesale Customer

KEASBEY, N.J. -- Wakefern Food Corp. said yesterday that it has entered into a wholesale agreement with New York-based retailer Gristedes, adding the 40-store chain to its growing list of non-ShopRite customers.

Under the agreement, Wakefern is providing Gristedes with the ShopRite private label brand, including ShopRite Organic products, HBC, and imported specialty items. The retail cooperative is also providing Gristedes with branded nonfood products, such as kitchen gadgets. The wholesaler said Gristedes has been a customer since mid-October.

"By making our line of specialty products available to other retailers, we're providing them with a quality, exclusive brand that provides a real point of competitive difference in the marketplace," noted Wakefern chairman and c.e.o. Joe Colalillo. "Helping independent grocers succeed in a space dominated by much larger competitors has always been our primary focus and our strength."

"After trying the ShopRite brand myself, I believe they are just as good, if not better than, national brand products," said Gristedes senior e.v.p. Charles Criscuolo in a statement. "By bringing the ShopRite brand into my stores, I'm offering more variety and added value to my customers seeking high-quality products at an affordable price."

ShopRite's private label line consists of more than 3,000 items.

Among the ShopRite products being supplied to Gristedes are organic cereal, olives imported from Greece, sparkling cider from Spain, extra virgin olive oil, panettone, and balsamic vinegar from Italy. "We have a unique relationship with small producers in Spain, Italy, and Greece who create home-grown, traditional foods and recipes. This provides us with a line of authentic foods that are exclusive to Wakefern and its customers," said Joe Gozzi, director of specialty grocery for Wakefern.

Wakefern has been quietly providing wholesale services to non-cooperative member retailers for at least 20 years, including overseas customers, but it only officially established a separate division in May 2007 as a way to create new wholesale business, Wakefern spokeswoman Karen Maleta told Progressive Grocer.

According to Dave Baer, director of the division, response so far has been positive. "We have serviced the independent grocer for years and understand the challenges they face," he said. "As a wholesaler, we are uniquely positioned to address the needs of the independents with the products and services they need to compete successfully."

Wakefern's wholesale customers include Ohio retailer Heinens.

For additional information on Wakefern's wholesale services, retailers can contact Baer at (732) 906-5934 or e-mail [email protected].

Gristedes has locations in New York City and Westchester, as well as a single store in Locust Valley, Long Island.

The largest retailer-owned cooperative in the United States and one of the largest employers in New Jersey, Wakefern is a co-op comprising 44 members who individually own and operate supermarkets under the ShopRite banner. In addition to corporately owned ShopRite stores, Wakefern operates 32 value-format stores under the PriceRite banner in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania.
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