Ukrop Goes From Grocer to Supplier: Report

He may not operate supermarkets anymore, but former Ukrop’s CEO Robert S. Ukrop is still a part of the food industry. Four months after the acquisition of his family’s grocery stores by the Pennsylvania-based Giant-Carlisle division of Ahold USA, which rebranded them under the Martin’s Food Markets banner, the erstwhile grocer has launched Ukrop’s Homestyle Foods, a business that provides such favorites from the now-defunct chain as White House Rolls, rainbow cookies, triple-cheese macaroni and cheese, and chicken salad, according to a report in the Richmond, Va., Times-Dispatch.

“We have a passion for food,” Ukrop told the newspaper to explain the formation of the new company, of which he is president and CEO. He added that Ukrop’s realized there was a demand for its signature food products when it first placed its stores on the market last year and dealt with potential buyers.

What’s more, the new company’s chief customer is Martin’s Food Markets, which stocks Ukrop’s Homestyle foods in the 25 Richmond-area stores it acquired from Ukrop’s. The two companies are currently in talks about perhaps offering the prepared foods in Martin’s nine other Virginia stores. Ukrop’s Homestyle has a few other customers, but plans eventually to expand to other chains and markets, under a strategy of what Ukrop calls “controlled growth,” which will give areas beyond Richmond the chance to discover the food items.

“We knew about Ukrop’s foods and recognized it could be a part of what we do,” Rick Herring, president of the Giant-Carlisle division, was quoted in the Times-Dispatch article. Herring has said that he considers Ukrop’s Homestyle a long-term partner. Martin’s stores even feature small exterior signs that read “featuring Ukrop’s Kitchen and Bakery” and have in-store eating areas called Ukrop’s Café.

According to Jim Scanlon, Martin’s regional VP, sales of the Ukrop’s items at the stores so far have been “great.”
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