U.S. Foodservice buys J.H. Harr & Sons of N.J. Deal will give company boost in New York area

October 24, 1998|By Sean Somerville | Sean Somerville,SUN STAFF

Continuing its rapid pace of acquisitions, U.S. Foodservice Inc. of Columbia yesterday said it had acquired J.H. Haar & Sons Inc. of Kearny, N.J.

The acquisition of Haar, which has $57 million in annual sales, is not a large transaction for U.S. Foodservice, which had sales of $5.5 billion in fiscal 1998.

Jim Miller, chairman and chief executive officer of U.S. Foodservice, said the deal will help the company boost its business in a key market. Details of the transaction weren't disclosed.

"The combination of Haar with U.S. Foodservice's existing presence in the New York metropolitan market will accelerate our growth in the largest food service market in the country," Miller said.

Under the deal, which will be accounted for as a pooling-of-interests transaction, Geoffrey Haar, Haar's owner, will continue as president of the Haar division of U.S. Foodservice.

Haar said his company looks forward to working with U.S. Foodservice, the nation's second largest food service distributor. will enhance U.S. Foodservice's local expertise and utilize the strengths of both organizations to better serve our customers," Haar said.

Bonna Walker, spokeswoman for U.S. Foodservice, said she did not expect any job cuts to result from the deal. "The two companies have no overlapping accounts at all," she said.

Godfrey M. Birckhead, an analyst with Blaylock & Partners L.P., said the acquisition answers concern among some investors about the company's sales growth. "A lot of companies in the $30 to $40 million range, up to $100 million, can be fill-in acquisitions for them," he said. "This acquisition is a sign there will be more acquisitions."

He added that if there is a recession, smaller food service companies will become more receptive to suitors.

This deal is about half the size of U.S. Foodservice's acquisition last January of Sorrento Food Service of Buffalo, N.Y., which had about $108 million in annual sales.

In its biggest deal by far, U.S. Foodservice -- formerly known as JP Foodservice -- last year acquired Rykoff-Sexton Inc. of Wilkes-Barre, Pa., in a deal valued at $1.4 billion in stock and assumed debt.

That merger, along with the acquisition of three other companies in the past fiscal year with sales totaling $200 million, made U.S. Foodservice the nation's second-largest food distributor. Shares closed yesterday at $45, down $1.

Pub Date: 10/24/98

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