KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Bucking the recession, Associated Wholesale Grocers logged a 36% increase in net sales from 2007-11. The company is reinvesting its financial growth in physical growth with a new headquarters here and a distribution center north of New Orleans.
The retailer-owned cooperative, founded in 1924, has a network of distribution centers in eight states, allowing AWG and its subsidiaries to deliver to more than 2,500 retail outlets in 24 states.
Officials with AWG have identified the cooperative’s highest potential for growth as being in its new Gulf Coast division, according to an AWG annual report. That potential resulted in AWG’s selection of Pearl River, La., for its seventh all-purpose distribution center.
About 40 miles north of New Orleans, the 720,000-square-foot warehouse will serve existing and new retail customers in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas, according to AWG’s annual report. The report projects the center’s capacity to be $2 billion or more annually.
AWG officials said recent hurricane activity in the Gulf of Mexico has slowed work, but no serious delays are foreseen. They said the project is expected to initially employ 290 workers when it opens in January 2013.
The 68-acre site is along the Interstate 10 corridor at the intersections of I-59 and I-12. The new distribution center is expected to save AWG’s current retailers more than $6 million a year in freight costs, lower the company’s transportation expenses and improve the availability of fresh, local food along the Gulf Coast.
Kansas City, Kan., is also expected to benefit from AWG’s growth. The Kansas Chamber of Commerce reported AWG is the second-largest privately held company in the Kansas City region and is among the metro area’s 100-fastest growing companies for the fourth straight year.
Almost 100 employees and their families are expected to relocate to work at the new headquarters. AWG already employees more than 1,000 workers at the location.