U.S. Foodservice buys another Fla. distributor

Cash deal for Mutual strengthens position in South, Southeast

May 23, 2001|By Gus G. Sentementes | Gus G. Sentementes,SUN STAFF

U.S. Foodservice, the Columbia subsidiary of Dutch supermarket company Royal Ahold NV, announced yesterday that it has completed the purchase of a Florida food distributor for an undisclosed amount of cash.

The acquisition of Mutual Wholesale Co. of Lakeland, Fla., gives U.S. Foodservice, the second-largest food service distributor behind Sysco Corp., a wider reach in Central and South Florida.

Mutual Wholesale had annual sales of roughly $300 million and serves 4,200 accounts, primarily restaurants, schools, universities and health care institutions. The closely held company has a distribution branch in Pompano Beach, Fla., in addition to its Lakeland facility.

"We're delighted [about the acquisition]," said Robert Gillison, U.S. Foodservice's vice president and treasurer. "We're finding that, given the consumer demographics, people are continuing to eat out, even in less-attractive economic times."

U.S. Foodservice provides practically everything that restaurants and institutions need to serve meals, from food ingredients and pots and pans, to dishes and tablecloths. The company has 55 distribution centers and 200,000 food-service customers. Its sales this year are projected to be $12 billion.

Since being acquired by Ahold in April 2000, U.S. Foodservice has increased its market share in the food-service industry, primarily in the South and Southeast, through a series of acquisitions.

The company purchased a Clearwater, Fla., food distributor in February for an undisclosed amount and paid $1.57 billion in December for PYA/Monarch, a leading food service distributor in the Southeast.

Analysts have said that Ahold, the world's sixth-largest supermarket company, has diversified into the food-service business as people spend more money in restaurants.

But the U.S. food-service industry is still fragmented enough for big companies such as U.S. Foodservice and Sysco to grow through acquisitions, analyst said. Overall food and nonfood distributor sales totaled $163 billion, according to an industry report published by ID Magazine, a trade publication.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.