News Briefs


Save A Lot Completes Refinancing Deal

Save A Lot teaser

Save A Lot has crossed another threshold in its journey to become a successful pure-play wholesale operation. The discount grocery store chain, which spun off 300-plus company-owned stores to retail partners, announced it successfully closed its refinancing of debt facilities on Dec. 30, 2022 and is coming away with a new $200 million, five-year asset-based lending credit (ABL) facility.  

That refinancing was put into place at the time of the reorganization in 2020. According to Save A Lot, the latest transaction includes a $180 million traditional ABL and a $20 million first-in, last-out ABL facility. The company also extended the maturity of about $377 million in existing term loans through 2026.

The financing update comes as Save A Lot seeks to knock down more debt and build toward the future. “The financial stability brought on by our transformation into a branded wholesaler, focused on supporting our independent licensees, has allowed us to complete a refinancing of the business, putting in place a more traditional asset-based lending facility and extending the maturities of most of our existing term loans. The benefits of this include improved liquidity, increased operational flexibility, and lower borrowing costs,” explained CEO Leon Bergmann, who joined Save A Lot in early 2022. “We believe this will translate into a greater opportunity for us to both invest in growth, through our licensed retail store model, and, coupled with our on-going sale of excess real estate, provide a path to potential meaningful debt reduction that will further strengthen our balance sheet and accelerate growth.”

In addition to selling its corporate-owned stores, Save A Lot added more than a dozen new ownership groups over the last couple of years, such as portfolio company Yellow Banana LLC and Ascend Grocery LLC, among others. Along with its relicensing changes, the company is making progress towards its goal of modernizing all stores by 2024.

With 850-plus stores in 32 states, Earth City, Mo.-based Save A Lot is No. 60 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.


Hudsonville Ice Cream Names New CEO

Tina Floyd

A family-owned ice cream manufacturer in Michigan has tapped a 30-year executive from The J.M. Smucker Co. to lead its business. Starting Feb. 13, Tina Floyd will be the new CEO at Hudsonville Ice Cream, a 90-year-old company headquartered in Holland, Mich.

Floyd takes over the executive position from Denny Ellens, co-owner and most recent CEO.  He will remain with Hudsonville as a member of the board of directors.

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Most recently, Floyd served as SVP and general manager of Smucker’s $1.7-billion consumer foods business. During her expansive career there, she oversaw consumer foods strategies and helped guide the iconic Smucker’s and Jif brands.

“The addition of Tina represents a true moment of growth for our Hudsonville team,” remarked Ellens. “We have seen considerable expansion during the past three years in terms of capability, staff and sales, and we have grown to become a beloved ice cream brand regionally. Tina’s addition adds big-league brand experience and cache, yet she understands the family culture that has been so crucial to our success to-date. She represents everything we are about, and I have no doubt that the qualities that have contributed to her personal successes over the past thirty years will translate incredibly well here at Hudsonville.”

Floyd said she’s looking forward to propelling more growth at Hudsonville, which has tripled its production capabilities and widened its workforce from 80 to 280 employees since 2019. “This is a family-owned organization that values its people, the community it calls home, and the proprietary process they have developed that produces some of the best-tasting ice cream on the market. I look forward to working collaboratively with this exceptional team to build towards an even brighter future,” she said.


Thrive Market’s Pennsylvania Fulfillment Center Receives TRUE Gold Certification

Thrive Market Teaser

The Hanover, Pa., fulfillment center operated by e-grocer Thrive Market has received Gold-level certification under the TRUE (Total Resource Use and Efficiency) rating system. Administered by the Washington, D.C.-based Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI), TRUE enables facilities to measure, improve and recognize their zero-waste performance by encouraging the adoption of sustainable waste management and reduction practices, which facilitate positive environmental, health and economic outcomes.

“We’re honored to earn the Zero Waste certification for our Hanover property, marking our third and final fulfillment center to achieve this important designation,” noted Nick Green, co-founder and CEO of Los Angeles-based Thrive Market. “Earning this certification ladders up to our five-year sustainability goals, including achieving zero-waste certification across our fulfillment network in 2022.” 

This TRUE Certification is part of Thrive Market’s goal to become the world’s first climate-positive grocery store. The company is supported by a mission-aligned operating model, and places environmental sustainability at the same priority level as efficiency and member experience.

“Zero waste is a powerful part of any company’s sustainability strategy,” affirmed Peter Templeton, president and CEO of U.S. Green Building Council and GBCI. “Through their TRUE certification, Thrive Market enhances their operations in a way that maximizes the lifecycle of every product to promote a fully circular economy.”

Founded in 2014, Thrive Market offers a curated selection of organic and non-GMO products, and offers 90-plus filters and values, allowing customers to shop by diet and lifestyle. Thrive Market has been carbon neutral since its founding, with a commitment to be carbon negative in 2025, and earned its B Corp certification in 2020.


Minerva Dairy Taps New Food Safety and QA Pro

Ken Ray

Now in its 125th year, Minerva Dairy continues to build for the future by expanding its professional team. The company recently hired Kenneth “Ken” S. Ray as its new director of food safety, quality assurance and sanitation.

Ray comes to the family-owned creamery from Ohio-based SmithFoods, Inc., where he was senior director of quality and regulatory. His background also includes a role as quality and sanitation manager for the Kraft Heinz Co., a position as VP of tech services for Mom’s Meals and a stint as director of food safety, QA and sanitation for 8th Avenue Food and Provisions. A Kentucky native, he grew up on a cattle and hog farm and earned a bachelor of science degree in biology and chemistry from Western Kentucky University and a master’s in science management from Brescia College.

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“Working in the family business afforded me an opportunity to learn and grow my business acumen early in life while gaining an understanding and appreciation of food safety and cleanliness,” said Ray. “Working with the team at Minerva Dairy provides me an opportunity to learn from and contribute to many generations of butter experts and cheese artisans, and I very much look forward to that.” 

Venae Watts, a fifth-generation co-owner at Minerva Dairy, said the company will benefit from his experience and dedication to the industry. “We are delighted to welcome Ken to Minerva Dairy, where my family has been making cheese and butter for over a century. Ken joins us on that mission to make better butter and cheese, which we no doubt will thanks to his expertise and knowledge in all aspects of food safety and quality assurance,” Watts remarked.

Based in Minerva, Ohio, Minerva Dairy works with retail and CPG companies across the U.S. Its product line includes cheddar, Italian-styles, and Kosher/Halal varieties, along with flavored infused butters.


Hy-Vee Plans Next Local Vendor Summit

Hy-Vee Sign Teaser

In line with its quarterly initiative to find the best local products to put on its shelves, Hy-Vee Inc. is planning its next Best of Local Brands Summit for March 1.

Manufacturers in Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wisconsin can submit their products from Jan. 9-23 in the categories of grocery, produce, deli, general merchandise, frozen, dairy, and health and beauty care. Hy-Vee is putting an emphasis on suppliers with diverse backgrounds, including minority-owned and women-owned businesses.

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ECRM and online product discovery and sourcing platform RangeMe are helping Hy-Vee source, qualify and connect with suppliers, with all product submissions being made through RangeMe. The March 1 summit will consist of 15- to 30-minute virtual presentations from selected suppliers, each of which will be conducted through ECRM’s virtual meeting platform.

Employee-owned Hy-Vee operates more than 285 retail stores across eight Midwestern states and has a team of more than 93,000 employees. The West Des Moines, Iowa-based company is No. 30 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.


Washington Supreme Court Grants Albertsons Cos. Expedited Review

merger deal

Following several weeks of legal challenges, Albertsons Cos. has been granted a Jan. 17 review of the temporary restraining order against its previously announced $6.85-per-common-share special dividend. At that time, the Washington Supreme Court, sitting en banc, will review the appeal of the attorney general of the State of Washington, which was originally scheduled for Feb. 9. 

The temporary restraining order will remain in effect until there is a further order issued by the Washington Supreme Court. 

On Dec. 20, the U.S. Circuit Court for the District of Columbia denied the motion filed by the California, Illinois and District of Columbia attorneys general for an injunction pending appeal and an administrative stay of the payment of the special dividend. On Nov. 8, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia denied the request by the California, Illinois and District of Columbia attorneys general for a temporary restraining order against the payment of the special dividend.

Albertsons maintains that the claim brought by the attorney general of the State of Washington, as well as the similar lawsuit brought by the attorneys general of California, Illinois and the District of Columbia, is meritless and provides no legal basis for preventing the payment of the special dividend. Albertsons’ position has been supported by favorable rulings in both circuit and district courts in the District of Columbia, and a Washington state court.

Albertsons Cos.’ proposed merger with The Kroger Co. is continuing through required regulatory review, which includes obtaining clearance under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976.

Boise, Idaho-based Albertsons  is No. 9 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America. Cincinnati-based Kroger is No. 4 on the list.