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Team Flickinger: C&S Strategic Shift featuring Kevin Coupe

Team Flickinger: C&S Wholesalers Shifting, buying 400 Kroger Stores

Kevin Coupe from Morning News Beat astutely highlights the strategic maneuvers of C&S Wholesale Grocers amidst the Kroger-Albertsons merger. Kevin's perspective, especially his endorsement of Burt Flickinger's insights, underscores the depth of expertise and analytical prowess that's valued in the retail industry. The "effort" and "vision" Kevin points to are a testament to the dedicated initiatives and comprehensive analyses that SRG undertakes when engaging with pivotal industry entities like C&S.

We're delighted to share this comprehensive piece from Morning News Beat, offering an intricate exploration of the challenges, opportunities, and strategic motivations that could reshape the future of grocery retailing.

Kroger and Albertson Merger | Kevin Coupe Article mentioning Burt Flickinger

The Boston Globe has a piece about C&S Wholesale Grocers, the New Hampshire-based company that may prove to be the lynchpin in Kroger's proposed $24.6 billion acquisition of Albertsons; C&S would buy more than 400 stores, for close to $2 billion, that the two retailers are offering to divest in exchange for regulatory approval of their deal.

The Globe writes that "with this deal, C&S has arrived at a critical moment. The company has evolved from a family-owned supplier serving small New England grocery stores into one of the country’s largest privately owned firms, with $30 billion in annual revenue. And by buying Kroger’s stores, C&S appears willing to wade deeper into the retail grocery business, where it could find itself in bruising competition with industry leviathan Walmart.

"C&S already is the largest grocery wholesaler in America, admired by ally and foe alike. But its aggressive move into retail also has some in the industry scratching their heads. The company is risking its reputation — and balance sheet — operating stores in a segment in which many of its current clients are already struggling to compete with Walmart."

According to The Globe, "C&S declined interview requests for this story. But one thing’s for sure: the company is highly opportunistic, especially when it comes to buying distressed but still valuable assets at fire sale prices. C&S wants to expand but only on its terms, industry observers say."

Assessments by analysts differ.

"It’s simply impossible,” says Brittain Ladd, a retail consultant, about C&S's ability to compete with the likes of Walmart. "There are not enough stores for C&S to own.”

But Burt Flickinger, managing director of Strategic Resources Group consulting firm in New York, believes that C&S is positioned to succeed, especially because it has been "hiring experienced executives who know how to run retail," and the price tag for the divested store is relatively cheap. Plus, C&S's core competency is distribution, and it has access to technologies that rival anyone's in the industry.

Kroger and Albertson Merger | C&S Wholesalers | SRG Insight | Burt Flickinger

The Globe Writes: "C&S ultimately knows it can’t solely rely on its wholesale business for growth, Flickinger said. If Walmart continues to crush supermarkets, there won’t be any supermarket left for C&S to supply. Therefore, C&S has every reason to make sure supermarkets and independent grocers survive, even if that means owning some of them, Flickinger said.

"'C&S correctly sees that the future is going to be a lot of privately held independent stores, either single stores and/or groups,' Flickinger said. 'C&S wants to have the size and scale of independent chains and groups to go with its buying and operating skills … C&S wants to control its own destiny'."

KC's View:

If I have to choose between Brittain Ladd and Burt Flickinger, I'm almost always going to be on Team Flickinger.

Not to say that C&S won't face challenges - whether these are company-owned stores or independent customers for its wholesale services, these divested stores will have to provide some sort of differentiated value proposition to shoppers. That'll take both effort and vision. Brainpower and elbow grease.

But I don't think this is "impossible." Far from it.


Strategic Resource Group is the lead retail and brand CPG consulting firm throughout the United States and the globe. With more than three decades of experience, our team strategically collaborates with top retail chains, wholesalers, suppliers, and investment firms. Our retail industry experts are highly skilled at illuminating retail trends, identifying opportunities to increase consumption, and growing retail sales.

Stay in the loop with SRG’s insights and latest news reportings as Burt Flickinger makes special appearances on the radio, TV, and a vast amount of other platforms. Explore the ways to drive your profitability, discover top resources, and uncover your competitive advantages!

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