<i>CSNews'</i> Top 25 Wholesalers: Convenience Wholesalers Achieve Solid Gains

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<i>CSNews'</i> Top 25 Wholesalers: Convenience Wholesalers Achieve Solid Gains

By Debra Chanil, EnsembleIQ - 11/19/2007
The top 25 convenience wholesalers achieved sales of $45 billion in the last fiscal year, according to the latest study conducted by Convenience Store News. This represents an additional $1.8 billion in sales, a solid 6- percent growth that outpaced the 3-percent growth posted in the previous study.

McLane Grocery Distribution remains at the top of the ranking, increasing sales for the year by 8.1 percent to reach a commanding $21.4 billion -- more than the combined sales of the next 15 companies on the list.

Core-Mark Holding Co. Inc. repeats it ranking of second place from last year, with sales of $5.3 billion, an impressive 10.4 percent sales increase. That sales increase was topped only by Garber Bros. Inc., (ranked at No. 10) with 11.6 percent and Cooper-Booth Wholesale Co. (No. 20) with a 10.9-percent rise.

All other companies in the top 10 are repeat performers from last year and all have retained the same ranking, with the exception of Amcon Distributing Co., which jumped one place to No. 7, pushing Harold Levinson Associations, Inc. into the No. 8 spot.

These top 10 companies continue their dominance of the industry, expanding on last year's increase of 4 percent to reach a 6.3-percent gain of $2 billion in sales for the current study. Interestingly, the remaining 15 companies naturally achieved a smaller dollar gain ($422 million), but edged out the top 10 on a percentage basis with growth of 6.8 percent.

Among the metrics included in the Top 25 Wholesalers Summary, the smallest gain was posted for average sales per full-time employee, at 0.8 percent. This may be due to an increase in the number of full-time employees, which was up by 2.7 percent in the past year. At the same time, reliance on part-time employees dipped by 15 percent during the year. This reverses the trend seen in last year's report, when the count of part-time workers jumped as full-timers were cut back.

The percentage of sales derived from chain vs. single-store operations remained virtually at the same level as last year, with the former bringing in 56.3 percent of total sales, while the latter made up 43.7 percent of sales.

Acquisition activity has slowed, but by no means stopped, among the Top 25. Among the highlights: McLane acquired McCarty Hull of El Paso, Texas; Core-Mark completed its acquisition of Klein Candy, Wilkes-Barre, Pa. (ranked 12th in last year's study); S. Abraham & Sons absorbed its subsidiary, Heartland Distributors, into its operations, and Stephenson Wholesale acquired Wilson Wholesale Co. Inc., Lawton, Okla.

Focusing in on specific attributes of the top 25 companies, we find -- once again -- that rankings are quite similar from year to year.

In terms of warehouse square footage, McLane still far outpaces the industry with 7.7 million square feet, more than twice the space of second-ranked Core-Mark. With Klein Candy (No. 8 on last year's list) now part of Core-Mark's operations, the open spot on the list was taken by Farner-Bocken.

Sales per warehouse square footage was once again led by Garber Brothers at $3,098 in a virtual tie with Liberty USA at $3,097. This repeats the order of last year's results, although Liberty closed the gap with a 4.3-percent increase in the past year.

McLane once again dominated in terms of number of deliveries per week at 54,700 (followed by Core-Mark at 31,500), so it's no surprise that they achieved the highest sales per delivery at $7,382 per week.

While Garber Bros. Inc. continued to lead the list of sales per full-time employees, at $2,309, McLane moved from 4th to 2nd place on the list at $2,028. Chambers & Owen Inc. remained in the 3rd spot (at $2,015). Harold Levinson Associates Inc. fell from 3rd to 7th in this ranking with $1,831 for the year.


Rankings for the Top 25 Convenience Wholesalers are based on sales from the last full fiscal year. Data for this report was gathered through a survey conducted among the largest wholesalers primarily servicing c-stores that derive a majority of their annual sales from tobacco and candy products. Additional data was obtained through company reports and other public sources of financial data. In some cases, estimates have been made by Convenience Store News based on historical data and current industry trends.