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Convenience Distributors Find Some Sales Growth Amidst Pandemic 

NATIONAL REPORT — The nation’s top wholesale distributors to the convenience store industry saw average sales increase a little more than 2 percent in 2020 despite the economic havoc caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

McLane Co. Inc., Core-Mark Holding Co. Inc. and Eby-Brown Co. once again grabbed the top three spots on Convenience Store News’ annual ranking of the largest wholesalers to the convenience channel. Based on survey data collected by CSNews, independent data sources and CSNews estimates, the annual CSNews Top Wholesalers Report provides the industry’s only look at the performance of the leading wholesale distributors to the c-store industry. Rankings are based on sales for the last full fiscal year for each company.

While the top three wholesalers retained their spots atop the ranking, along with No. 4 H.T. Hackney Co., a new organization moved into the No. 5 slot. National Convenience Distributors LLC (NCD) was formed in April 2020 from the merger of Allen Brothers Wholesale Distribution, J. Polep Distribution Services and Harold Levinson Associates.

Backed by private-equity firm Palm Beach Capital, NCD has become the largest full-line convenience store distributor serving the Northeast. Upon its formation, the company promised to bring enhanced customer experiences, best practices, integrated centralized operating systems, increased marketing power and go-to-market efficiencies to its customers.

Coming in at No. 6 for the year was Imperial Super Regional Distributor, which is the combination of Imperial Trading Co. and S. Abraham & Sons. Their merger was completed in July 2018.

At No. 7, AMCON Distributing Co. made a strategic investment early in 2020 in Team Sledd, which sits at No. 11 in the ranking. AMCON, based in Omaha, Neb., and Team Sledd, based in Wheeling, W. Va., have combined sales of just under $2 billion.

The biggest year-over-year percentage sales increase was posted by Southco Distributing Co. in Goldsboro, N.C., with a 15.4-percent gain. McLane recorded the highest amount of sales per retail location served, followed by Team Sledd and Cooper-Booth Wholesale Co. of Mountville, Pa. And Team Sledd reported the highest sales per delivery per week.

Half of the respondents said they expanded into new product categories in the past year, citing CBD, personal protective equipment, fresh packaged fruit and salads, and prepackaged take-home meals. In addition, 70 percent of respondents said they expanded their foodservice selection.

C-store industry wholesalers also said they invested in new technology and business services for their customers. Among the new technologies that were either added or enhanced are:

  • Sales technology solutions;
  • Enhanced data analytics tools;
  • Customer-specific solutions;
  • New ordering technologies;
  • Virtual trade shows;
  • Updated warehouse technology and ordering; and
  • Scanning at customer delivery and customer receiving.

Some distributors also cited enhanced category management capabilities, expanded analytics teams, and better customer access to monthly and new-item promotional material.

Click here for the full Top Wholesalers Report.

About the Author

Don Longo

Don Longo is Editorial Director Emeritus of Convenience Store News. He joined the brand in 2005. With the highest recognition of any c-store industry media journalist, Don has given presentations to business groups throughout the U.S., Europe and South America, appeared as a guest on Fox Business News and National Public Radio, and is a highly sought source for major consumer and business news.

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