Central Grocers, Inc. has announced that the company and all of its subsidiaries have voluntarily elected to file for relief under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware. The company intends to use this court-supervised process to conduct an orderly sale of its Strack & Van Til stores as going concerns and anticipates entering into a sale agreement with a stalking horse bidder in the near future. Central Grocers is also seeking to sell its distribution center in Joliet as it winds down its wholesale distribution operations. The company has been cooperating with its lenders and expects to have access to sufficient liquidity to continue operating its stores and winding down the distribution center in an orderly fashion.
Strack & Van Til Stores Are Open for Business
All 22 Strack & Van Til, Town & Country Market and Ultra Foods stores in Indiana and Illinois are open and serving customers. Employees are receiving their pay in the ordinary course. Strack & Van Til intends to pay vendors in full for goods and services provided on or after the filing date, May 4, 2017.
Jeff Strack, President and Chief Executive Officer of Strack & Van Til, said, “Our stores are open, and we are as focused as ever on supporting our customers and providing the legendary service that we are known for. As we move through this process, our priorities, values and commitments to our customers and our communities will not change. We thank our loyal customers for their continued support, and we thank our employees for their hard work and dedication.”
Central Grocers Working Toward Sale of Stores and Distribution Facility
Central Grocers is continuing to work toward implementing a sale of the Strack & Van Til stores and a sale of its distribution center in Joliet and certain other assets. It is anticipated that any such sale transactions will be conducted pursuant to a court-supervised auction process under Section 363 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.
Ken Nemeth, President and Chief Executive Officer of Central Grocers, said, “In light of the increasingly difficult environment for independent supermarkets and retailers, we have been working tirelessly to achieve an outcome that is in the best interests of our stakeholders. We are using this court-supervised sale process to provide us the time and flexibility to conduct an orderly sale of the Strack & Van Til stores, while we work to sell the warehouse in Joliet and wind down our wholesale distribution operations.”
The company has filed a number of customary motions seeking court authorization to continue to support its operations during the court-supervised process, including payment of employee wages and benefits. In addition, the company intends to file a motion shortly in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Illinois seeking to dismiss the involuntary bankruptcy case commenced against Central Grocers in view of its voluntary Chapter 11 filing.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is extending the compliance date for menu labeling requirements from May 5, 2017 to May 7, 2018. This extension allows for further consideration of what opportunities there may be to reduce costs and enhance the flexibility of these requirements beyond those reflected in the interim final rule.
The FDA is inviting comments for 60 days on the implementation of the menu labeling requirements, such as approaches to reduce regulatory burden or increase flexibility related to (a) calorie disclosure signage for self-service foods, including buffets and grab-and-go foods; (b) methods for providing calorie disclosure information other than on the menu itself; and (c) criteria for distinguishing between menus and other information presented to the consumer.
The extension will be effective on May 4, 2017 when the Federal Register publishes the extension in advance of the May 5 compliance date. The 60-day comment period will begin on May 4, 2017.
Submit electronic comments to http://www.regulations.gov. Submit written comments to the Division of Dockets Management (HFA-305), Food and Drug Administration, 5630 Fishers Lane, rm. 1061, Rockville, MD 20852. All comments should be identified with Docket No. FDA-2011-F-0172 for “Food Labeling; Nutrition Labeling of Standard Menu Items in Restaurants and Similar Retail Food Establishments; Extension of Compliance Date and Request for Comments.”
Impossible Foods has hired food industry veteran Chris Gregg as Senior Vice President of Supply Chain and Manufacturing. Gregg, 46, will be part of Impossible Foods’ management team and oversee operations for manufacturing and supply chain as the company rapidly expands.
The company’s flagship product, the Impossible Burger, is the world’s only burger that looks, handles, smells, cooks and tastes like ground beef from cows — but is made entirely from plants, with a much smaller environmental footprint than meat from animals. The Impossible Burger uses about 75 percent less water, generates about 87 percent fewer greenhouse gases and requires around 95 percent less land than conventional ground beef from cows. It’s produced without hormones, antibiotics, cholesterol or artificial flavors.
Impossible Foods is building its first large-scale production facility, which could enable the company to make at least 1 million pounds of Impossible Burger per month when fully ramped up. The Oakland, California, site has the capacity to make 250 times more Impossible Burgers than the company is currently making in its headquarters in Redwood City, California, and at a small facility in New Jersey.
Just before joining Impossible Foods, Gregg worked for a prominent private equity firm where he served as the chief operating officer of three high-growth brands — Babyganics, Solid Gold Pet, and Bare Snacks — leading their operations and supply chains. He previously worked for a division of the food retail giant Safeway Inc.
“I was attracted to Impossible Foods not only by the intellectual challenge but by the enormous positive impact the company can have by rapidly scaling up production of its plant-based foods,” Gregg said. “The more we can optimize the manufacturing process, the faster we make the Impossible Burger available worldwide to offset the environmental cost of animal farming, while creating a more resilient and sustainable food system.”
Natural Grocers will open its third Arkansas store on Wednesday, May 10, 2017. The new store will open at 8:30 a.m. and is located at 1315 South Caraway Road. The store will anchor the Caraway Plaza shopping center at the corner of Caraway Road and Nettleton Avenue.
Natural Grocers provides the community with fresh produce that is 100 percent USDA Certified Organic, as well as other healthy, Always Affordable organic and natural products. The stores feature a mix of national brands and a selection of locally produced products in a small, neighborhood market environment. The stores will also feature a Nutritional Health Coach and offer free nutrition education classes to the public. The store will be open seven days a week.
On Tuesday, April 25, Teamsters Local 703 and Central Grocers reached an understanding to resolve the union’s action for a temporary restraining order. Local 703 originally filed the action in federal court on April 18 based on information that Central Grocers would sell its facility in Joliet, Illinois.
The Teamsters represent approximately 300 members at Central Grocers, the supplier to hundreds of retail grocery stores in Illinois and majority owner of Strack & Van Til stores in Indiana.
Local 703 had sought an injunction of any sale, including a temporary restraining order, pending arbitration of the union’s claim that the sale would violate its labor contracts. Local 703 now has agreed to withdraw the action, without prejudice to re-filing, in exchange for certain assurances from Central Grocers regarding a potential transaction and receipt of certain confidential information that will allow the Teamsters to better assess the transaction and its potential impact on the labor contracts and members.
The arrangement will allow the seller and buyer to proceed with exploration of the potential transaction without the disruption of litigation, while giving Local 703 new and concrete information necessary to better protect its interests and the interests of its members.
“Withdrawing our original action at this time is in the best interest of the union and our membership,” said Thomas W. Stiede, Secretary-Treasurer of Local 703. “Preserving our strong labor agreements in the grocery industry is paramount. The Teamsters will continue to work to gather information in the effort to protect members and prepare for what the future may hold.”
Click the image above or click here to read the May 2017 issue of Gourmet News, including Sweets & Treats, a special supplement highlighting vendors at this year’s Sweets & Snacks show in Chicago.
The Kroger Co. received notice of an unsolicited “mini-tender” offer by TRC Capital Corporation (TRC Capital) to purchase up to 4 million Kroger common shares at a price of $28.70 per share in cash. The offering price is 4.24 percent below the closing price per share of Kroger’s common shares on April 13, 2017, the last trading day before the offer was commenced. The offer is for approximately 0.44 percent of the common shares outstanding.
Kroger does not endorse TRC Capital’s unsolicited mini-tender offer and recommends that shareholders do not tender their shares because the offer is at a price below the current market price for Kroger’s shares and subject to numerous conditions. Kroger is not associated with TRC Capital, its mini-tender offer or the mini-tender offer documentation.
Mini-tender offers seek to acquire less than 5 percent of a company’s shares outstanding. Consequently, they can avoid many disclosure and procedural requirements of U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) rules that apply to offers for more than 5 percent of a company’s shares outstanding.
Albertsons Companies has appointed Wayne Denningham, EVP & Chief Operating Officer, to the new role of President and Chief Operating Officer for Albertsons Companies. Bob Miller remains Chairman and CEO, a role he has held since April 2015.
Denningham will continue to lead store operations with added oversight of Marketing & Merchandising, Supply Chain, Manufacturing, and Integration, all of which will continue under their current leadership.
Albertsons Companies has named current Jewel-Osco Division President Mike Withers as Executive Vice President, Retail Operations for Albertsons Companies. Withers will lead the company’s East Region operations, while current EVP, Retail Operations Susan Morris will lead the West Region. Jim Perkins, EVP, Retail Operations Special Projects, is focused on targeted initiatives to accelerate growth. All three executives will continue to report to Wayne Denningham, President and COO.
“Mike is an exceptional leader who understands our business and market areas from coast to coast,” Denningham said. “Throughout his career, Mike has worked closely with many members of our current leadership team, and his management experience and operations expertise will help all of our divisions run really great stores.”
Dean Foods Company’s Mayfield Creamery ice cream brand is expanding further across the southern U.S. to a collection of new markets in Texas, Oklahoma, Arizona and New Mexico. Mayfield Ice Cream debuted in 1923, and can currently be found in grocery stores across the southeast in Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Virginia, Mississippi, West Virginia, Kentucky and Louisiana.
In conjunction with the brand’s expansion across the south, the company also announced a brand restage initiative that takes Mayfield back to its roots, including restoring the name of the 94-year-old brand to Mayfield Creamery, the original trademark. To bring this update to life, Mayfield Creamery has completely overhauled its packaging graphics to showcase the brand’s core values, reflected in classic iconography and its heritage as a family dairy. The new packaging prominently features a classic Mayfield delivery truck set against the foothills of the Smoky Mountains highlighting the brand’s authentic southern roots. The new Mayfield Creamery logo has been adapted from the iconic circular Mayfield Dairy Farms logo recognized by generations of loyal fans.