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    Convenience Wholesalers Stage a Comeback Performance

    Annual CSNews Top Wholesalers report highlights sales turnaround.

    By Debra Chanil, EnsembleIQ

    NATIONAL REPORT — After a period of challenges, companies in the 2016 Convenience Store News Top Wholesalers ranking staged something of a comeback over the past year.

    These 25 companies achieved a combined sales increase of 4.1 percent, more than double the 1.7 percent posted in last year’s report. Sales reached $68 billion, with the top 10 companies driving 90 percent of this total, according to new market research conducted by CSNews.

    While the top 10 players remain virtually intact, three companies on last year’s list were acquired by some of those in the top 10. Eby-Brown Co. LLC (No. 3) acquired Liberty USA, West Mifflin, Pa. (No. 14 in last year’s report); Core-Mark Holding Co. Inc. (No. 2) picked up Pine State Trading Co., Augusta, Maine (previously No. 20); and H.T. Hackney Co. (No. 4) now owns Thomas & Howard Co., Columbia, S.C. (previously No. 26).

    Positions for eight of the top 10 have not changed from last year. McLane Co. Inc. continues to top the ranking, posting $32.3 billion in sales — a 2.1-percent increase following last year’s decline of 0.6 percent. Core-Mark reached sales of $11.1 billion with a 7.8-percent jump to secure the second spot, while Eby-Brown hit $6 billion, a 13.2-percent increase (the largest among the top 10).

    The only change in the top 10 in this year’s report came as Consumer Product Distributors Inc. overtook Imperial Super Regional Distributors for ninth place.

    Overall, among the 25 companies, Harbor Wholesale Foods achieved the largest increase at 19.4 percent. In addition to Harbor and Eby-Brown, other double-digit winners included S. Abraham & Sons Inc. (up 11 percent) and Consumer Product Distributors (10 percent).

    Expansion into new convenience categories is responsible for some of this growth, as about one-third of respondents this year report several category additions over the past 12 months. Such categories include fresh produce, dairy, deli and snacks. Cold and frozen beverages have also contributed, including this summer’s big trend: cold brew coffee.

    Several wholesalers noted that while they had not expanded into new categories, they had enhanced existing lines, including fresh produce and better-for-you products.

    Rankings for the annual Convenience Store News Top Wholesalers report are based on sales from the last full fiscal year for each company. Data for this report is 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 CSNews based on historical data and current industry trends.

    Look in the September issue of Convenience Store News for the full Top Wholesalers report.  

    By Debra Chanil, EnsembleIQ
    • About Debra Chanil Debra Chanil is Director of Market Research of EnsembleIQ. She can be reached at [email protected]

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