C&S Wholesale Grocers

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C&S Wholesale Grocers
Industry Grocery wholesale and distribution
Founded Worcester, Massachusetts (1918)
Founder Israel Cohen and Abraham Siegel
Headquarters Keene, New Hampshire, United States
Number of locations
about 50 distribution centers in 15 states[1]
Key people
Revenue $21.7 billion (as of 2013)[2]
Number of employees
about 14,000 (as of 2013)[2]
Website www.cswg.com

C&S Wholesale Grocers is an American wholesale distributor of food and grocery store items with its headquarters in Keene, New Hampshire, United States. C&S is the twelfth-largest privately held company in the United States, as listed in 2013 by Forbes. C&S owns the Piggly Wiggly grocery brand (which is independently franchised to store operators) as well as the Best Yet private label brand.[3] C&S is the largest wholesale grocery distributor in the United States, based on revenue.[4]

C&S provides more than 95,000 stock-keeping units (SKUs) food and nonfood items to 5,000 corporate customers, including produce, meat, dairy products, delicatessen products, fresh/frozen bakery items, health and beauty aids, candy, and tobacco. C&S has 14,000 associates in 15 states, and storage space of more than 15 million square feet.[1][5]

C&S customers include Giant-Carlisle, Giant-Landover, Stop & Shop, Safeway Inc., A&P Supermarkets, Target Corporation, and independent store/supermarket owner/operators.[1]


C&S was founded by Israel Cohen and Abraham Siegel in 1918 in Worcester, Massachusetts. It began as a small grocery distribution center in a three-story building on Winter Street. In 1929 the original building flooded, prompting a move to a new, larger location on Hygeia Street. In the 1940s, as the popularity of supermarkets grew, C&S made several improvements to their distribution process including a warehouse "roller system", and staffing trucks with one employee who acts as driver and salesman, thus cutting delivery costs in half.[6]

C&S grew dramatically in 1958 after it began serving supermarket chain Big D in Worcester.[7]

In the 1970s, the founder's grandson, Rick Cohen, joined the company. C&S then built and moved into a 300,000-square-foot (28,000 m2) warehouse in Brattleboro, Vermont. With the move, it began serving several large supermarket chains, including A&P.[7]

Beginning in 2013, C&S entered into a partnership with BI-LO to provide warehousing, distribution, and procurement services for all 480 Winn-Dixie stores. As a result, C&S began to operate six existing Winn-Dixie distribution centers in the Southeast of the United States.[8] In September 2014, C&S entered into an Asset purchase agreement with Associated Wholesalers Inc (AWI), thus allowing C&S to acquire nearly all of their assets.[9]

Retail Operations[edit]

Grand Union[edit]

In 2001, C&S moved into retailing as it acquired the Grand Union supermarket chain. It was Grand Union's largest unsecured creditor when Grand Union declared bankruptcy, making a stalking horse offer.[10] It sold the chain to Tops Markets in 2012.

Southern Family Markets[edit]

The Southern Family Markets banner was created in 2005 when C&S acquired 104 stores from BI-LO, which operated stores under the BI-LO, Bruno's Supermarkets, Food World, FoodMax and Food Fair brand names.[11] Eight of these locations in the Knoxville, Tennessee market were sold to K-Va-T Food Stores before ever converting to the Southern Family name.[12] In addition, Southern Family acquired 7 stores from Winn-Dixie that same year. [13]

Under increasing competition, Southern Family Markets announced in August 2006 that they would either close or sell 30 stores in Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi along with their complete North Carolina market of 17 stores. In 2007 and 2008, C&S began converting six stores in Georgia and ten in Alabama to the Piggly Wiggly banner.[14][15][16]

In April 2009, as part of the Bruno's Supermarkets bankruptcy proceedings, Southern Family agreed to purchase 31 Bruno's locations in a $45.8 million deal.[17] By October 2010, Southern Family Markets announced the closings of eleven of the stores acquired during the Bruno's bankruptcy.[18]

In July 2012, all 57 Southern Family owned locations located in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi and Florida were sold to Belle Foods. C&S would continue as Belle Foods main distributor until Belle Foods was liquidated in September 2013 and purchased by Associated Wholesale Grocers.[19] [20]

Piggly Wiggly Carolina Co.[edit]

In October 2014, C&S acquired the operations of Piggly Wiggly Carolina Co., which included branding, marketing, store support, accounting and IT services, for $9.3 million, while the 20 corporately owned Piggly Wiggly Carolina stores were to be sold to independent operators. As of August 2015, there are 2 corporately owned locations with 46 independently owned locations.[21] [22]


  • January 2009: Lawsuits were filed in federal courts in Wisconsin and New Hampshire alleging that C&S and SuperValu engaged in collusion to allocate markets and reduce competition. The charges stemmed from a 2003 asset swap in which SuperValu swapped distribution centers in the Northeast with C&S's centers in the Midwest with suits claiming that each had indicated it would not compete in the other's territory. The agreement raised red flags when C&S closed its newly acquired distribution centers shortly after the deal.[23][24][25]
  • December 2010: A&P filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, citing in court papers that, among other causes, A&P made an "unfavorable" arrangement with C&S where A&P was required to get 70 percent of its inventory from C&S.[26]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "About". C&S Wholesale Grocers. Retrieved 8 October 2014. 
  2. ^ a b "C&S Wholesale Grocers on the Forbes America's Largest Private Companies List". Forbes.com. Retrieved 2014-10-07. 
  3. ^ "Full Line Wholesale Procurment". C&S Wholesale Grocers. Retrieved 8 October 2014. 
  4. ^ "Investor Relations". C&S Wholesale Grocers. Retrieved 8 October 2014. 
  5. ^ "Private Label Brands". C&S Wholesale Grocers. Retrieved 8 October 2014. 
  6. ^ "C&S Through the Years". C&S Wholesale Grocers. Retrieved 8 October 2014. 
  7. ^ a b Coffey, Brendan; Siraj, Zohair. "Hidden Billionaire Cohen Hauls Fortune in Unmarked Trucks". Bloomberg. Retrieved 8 October 2014. 
  8. ^ Springer, Jon (2013-05-14). "C and S to Take Over Winn-Dixie Distribution". Supermarket News. Retrieved 8 October 2014. 
  9. ^ "Associated Wholesalers Enters Into Asset Purchase Agreement With C&S Wholesale Grocers". PRNewswire (Associated Wholesalers Inc). September 9, 2014. Retrieved 8 October 2014. 
  10. ^ http://www.paulweiss.com/files/Publication/d1436bab-f7cd-4ecf-a1d7-26764ac96052/Presentation/PublicationAttachment/896831da-763f-4a4e-a70d-7599105b5056/837336.pdf[dead link]
  11. ^ "C&S Boosts Retail In BI-LO Buy". SupermarketNews.com. 2005-05-09. Retrieved 2015-08-08. 
  12. ^ "Food City To Acquire 8 BI-LO Locations". SupermarketNews.com. 2006-02-27. Retrieved 2015-08-08. 
  13. ^ . Supermarket News. 2005-07-11 Winn-Dixie Receives Bids For 79 Stores http://supermarketnews.com/archive/winn-dixie-receives-bids-79-stores Winn-Dixie Receives Bids For 79 Stores Check |url= scheme (help). Retrieved 2015-08-08.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  14. ^ More Southern Family Stores to Switch to Piggly Wiggly, Supermarket News, dated September 27, 2007
  15. ^ Southern Family stores to become Piggly Wiggly, DecaturDaily.com, dated January 10, 2008
  16. ^ Market to open Wednesday, TimesDaily.com, dated January 13, 2008
  17. ^ Bruno's sells 56 stores in $46M deal, bizjournals.com, dated April 30, 2009
  18. ^ Southern Family to close Pelham, Trussville Food World stores, al.com, dated October 5, 2010
  19. ^ Belle Foods Completes Southern Family Markets Acquisition, Progressive Grocer, dated July 2, 2012
  20. ^ . al.com. 2013-09-27 Bankruptcy judge approves sale of 43 Belle Foods stores to AWG http://www.al.com/business/index.ssf/2013/09/bankruptcy_judge_approves_sale.html Bankruptcy judge approves sale of 43 Belle Foods stores to AWG Check |url= scheme (help). Retrieved 2015-08-08.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  21. ^ "Store Locator". Piggly Wiggly Carolina Co. Retrieved 2015-08-08. 
  22. ^ "C&S to acquire Piggly Wiggly Carolina". SupermarketNews.com. 2014-10-08. Retrieved 2015-08-08. 
  23. ^ Stevens, Caleb (January 22, 2009). "Supervalu faces collusion lawsuit". 
  24. ^ "Grocery Wholesalers Face Anticompetitive Lawsuit | Modern Distribution Management". Mdm.com. Retrieved 2010-12-13. 
  25. ^ Sanders, Bob (2009-07-03). "Grocery score: suit alleges C&S in antitrust conspiracy.". Entrepreneur.com. Retrieved 2010-12-13. [dead link]
  26. ^ Kary, Tiffany. "A&P, Century-Old U.S. Grocery Store Owner, Files for Bankruptcy". Bloomberg. Retrieved 2010-12-13. 

External links[edit]