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White Rose To Purchase Major Stake In Grande Supermarkets


May 17, 2001
Copyright © 2001 CARIBBEAN BUSINESS. All Rights Reserved.

New Jersey-based independent wholesale food distributor White Rose is in advanced negotiations to purchase a major stake in local food retailer Grande Supermarkets.

"We are in negotiations," confirmed Atilano Cordero Badillo, president and owner of Grande Supermarkets. CARIBBEAN BUSINESS learned that Steve Bokser, president of White Rose was recently on the island for several hours meeting with Cordero Badillo.

Cordero Badillo did not disclose additional details, but a source close to the discussions said the companies have been negotiating for some time and are about to close a deal. The source added that White Rose plans to use Grande’s central distribution center to distribute its full line of products to local supermarkets and retailers. The company will establish offices in Grande’s headquarters in Cataño. Besides an influx of money, White Rose will also increase Grande’s purchasing power to help it compete with other supermarket chains in terms of price and variety.

White Rose has had its eye on the local market for some time. In an October1999 CARIBBEAN BUSINESS interview, Bokser expressed his interest in opening a local office and distribution center.

Experts say the arrival of White Rose could also help local small food retailers. "The White Rose and Grande marriage could be the salvation for the small supermarkets," said an industry source. "It will assist small and independent supermarkets especially in their meat, frozen food, and dairy businesses. Small guys can’t get fresh beef, pork, or veal consistently at a good price. It is ideal for entities at the mercy of local distribution."

The White Rose-Grande Supermarket deal could also add an interesting twist to an outstanding legal suit involving Mendez & Co., Di Giorgio Corp. (White Rose), and Grande Supermarkets. Mendez & Co. filed a suit against both Grande Supermarkets and Di Giorgio Corp. for allegedly breaking Law 75, also known as the Distribution Contract Law, which protects local distributors’ exclusivity contracts. Mendez & Co. claims that DiGiorgio unlawfully supplied Grande with products for which Mendez & Corp. had exclusive distribution rights. Grande Supermarkets and DiGiorgio Corp. claim that Mendez & Co. has interfered with free trade rights.

White Rose is New York City’s largest independent wholesale food distributor, shipping more than 18,000 food and non-food products to more than 1,600 stores. Its private label White Rose–sold in Grande as well as in others local supermarkets–offers more than 800 items. White Rose, which is owned by DiGiorgio Corp., serves independent retailers, supermarket chains, and members of voluntary cooperatives from Maryland to New England. The company has annual sales of $1.6 billion.

Empresas Cordero Badillo–Grande Supermarket’s parent company–is one of Puerto Rico’s largest locally owned companies, with more than $360 million in revenue and about 2,200 employees. In December, Empresas Cordero Badillo closed an $80 million loan with Citibank for expansion, operating capital, and restructuring.

White Rose became a major supplier for Grande Supermarkets in 1999 after the company purchased Twin County, Grande’s previous supplier.

This Caribbean Business article appears courtesy of Casiano Communications.
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