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US Foods acquires another distributor

Acquisition of F. Christiana and Co. is the company’s fourth purchase this year

US Foods Holding Corp. is on a shopping spree.

The Rosemont, Ill.-based distributor, which is the country’s second-largest broadline distributor of food and other products to restaurants and grocers, has acquired another small, regional distributor, F. Christiana and Co., the company said on Monday.

It is the fourth deal for US Foods this year, and its ninth deal since late 2015. Nearly all of the acquisitions have been of smaller, regional distributors that cater mostly to independent restaurants and small chains.

“F. Christiana has an excellent reputation in the independent operator space,” Keith Knight, region president for US Foods, said in a statement. “When combined with their success in key strategic markets such as New Orleans and Baton Rouge, this acquisition will further enhance our position with new and existing customers in Louisiana.” 

F. Christiana and Co., based in Marrero, La., was founded in 1934 as an egg-packing company and poultry dealer. Over the years, the company diversified its product line and became a broadline distributor.

The company operates a 70,000-square-foot distribution facility in Marrero. It generates nearly $100 million in annual sales and serves more than 1,800 independent restaurant, hotel and convenience-store customers in Louisiana, Southern Mississippi and Southern Alabama.

F. Christiana and Co. will continue to operate under its name in its facility.

“We see many similarities between US Foods and F. Christiana, most important of which is the passion for bringing value to its customers to help them succeed,” F. Christiana general manager Nick Christiana said in a statement. “With the size and scale of US Foods, our customers will have increased access to new and innovative products and business solutions to help them continue to grow their businesses profitably.” 

In 2015, amid heavy opposition from federal regulators, Houston-based Sysco Corp. called off its acquisition of US Foods in what would have combined the country’s two largest broadline distributors.

In August 2015, US Foods said it would restart its acquisition strategy in light of the failure of the deal. It has made numerous acquisitions since then. 

Sysco and US Foods dominate the distribution market, but there are also eight super-regional competitors, including Performance Food Group and Gordon Food Service, as well as countless smaller, independent distributors. 

The larger companies have been buying up the smaller ones as they jockey for position in a rapidly evolving market. But it threatens to reduce choices, particularly for independent restaurants.

Earlier this year, US Foods acquired the meat manufacturing company FirstClass Foods, based in Hawthorne, Calif.; the distributor and meat processor SRA Foods, based in Birmingham, Ala.; and the broadline distributor All American Foods, based in North Kingstown, R.I.

All of the deals are designed to bolster US Foods’ competitiveness in certain markets and with certain customers, particularly independents. US Foods is smaller than its rival, Sysco, the country’s largest distributor.

Contact Jonathan Maze at [email protected]

Follow him on Twitter: @jonathanmaze

TAGS: Operations
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