Columbia firm plans purchase

U.S. Foodservice to buy N.Y. paper company


June 02, 1999|By Sean Somerville | Sean Somerville,SUN STAFF

Moving again to expand by acquisition, U.S. Foodservice Inc. said yesterday that it will buy a paper products company that serves upstate New York.

The Columbia-based food service giant did not disclose the purchase price for Sofco Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Broomfield, Col.-based Corporate Express Inc., which sells office and computer products to businesses.

Sofco, one of the nation's largest suppliers of janitorial and cleaning supplies, had approximately $160 million in sales for the fiscal year that ended Jan. 30, 1999 -- about 3 percent of U.S. Foodservice's $5.5 billion in sales last year.

Sofco's market includes Albany, Buffalo and Rochester. "The acquisition of Sofco is an exciting step in continuing our strategy of broadening our product offerings," said Jim Miller, chairman, president and chief executive officer of U.S. Foodservice.

Miller also said Sofco's customer base would help U.S. Foodservice improve service to existing customers and help it land new ones.

"The combination of Sofco and U.S. Foodservice's existing presence in the Buffalo and Rochester markets will give us significant advantages," Miller said.

Corporate Express' sale of Sofco resulted from its goal "to focus on operations with the highest strategic fit, greatest potential for sustained, profitable growth," said Robert King, chief executive officer of Corporate Express.

Tha deal is the latest by U.S. Foodservice, which made six acquisitions within 10 months last year. That shopping spree included buying Joseph Webb Foods Inc. of Vista, Calif., and J. H. Haar & Sons Inc. of Kearny, N.J. The Sofco deal is expected to become final by the end of the month.

U.S. Foodservice, which employs 12,000 and has more than 130,000 customers that include restaurants, hotels and schools, said it does not anticipate cutting any of Sofco's 600 workers.

Shares of U.S. Foodservice closed yesterday at $43.875, down 62.5 cents, while shares of Corporate Express rose 9.38 cents to $6.6563.

Pub Date: 6/02/99

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