David Bullard, president and CEO of Piggly Wiggly Alabama Distributing Co. in Bessemer, Alabama, provided The Shelby Report with an update on the happenings at his company.
Piggly Wiggly Alabama serves more than 270 retail locations across the Southeast, including Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina and Tennessee. The company was founded in 1959 when 27 Piggly Wiggly store owners came together to create “mass buying power,” which allowed them to compete. Today, 60 years later, Piggly Wiggly Alabama Distributing Co.’s sales exceed $700 million. Its offerings for retailers include bakery/deli, grocery, meat and produce items, as well as advertising services, distribution warehouse and transportation, retail accounting, Retail Pricing Management System (RPMS), three annual food shows and store engineering.
Update us on what has been going on in your company over the last year. Have you added new customers, added new executive team members, grown into a new geographical area, etc.?
Over the last year, we have been able to take advantages of several opportunities in our markets. This has increased our store count and our revenues, as we currently are enjoying an approximate $500,000 increase in weekly sales over last year. This has resulted from some of our operators purchasing the Southeastern Grocers stores that were made available and some organic growth with our operators taking on some new projects, as well as several operators have chosen to join our warehouse who were doing business with other cooperatives.
What are some of the most notable programs you are offering your retailers today?
We specialize in building a marketing program based on each store’s marketing area and competition. Our programs are simple, and our groceries are cheap. Our operators like the combination of our ad plans, our buying shows, our scan down programs and, of course, our low cost of goods. Additionally, this year we rolled out a new Retail Management Pricing System called GoRPMS. This is a state-of-the-art program that we can build on and continue to improve over the next several years.
What are the issues that most concern you related to business today and what are you doing to address those?
A major problem for independents across the country is lack of succession planning, particularly when there is not a next generation of the family interested or available to take over. We work hard to anticipate these situations and create transitional opportunities for these retailers.
Another problem facing the industry is the disruption in the supply chain. Much of this is driven by the shortage of truck drivers at all levels. This causes problems with the service levels from the manufacturer to the wholesaler, then to the retailer and, of course, his customer. We work very hard on communicating with both our suppliers as well as our retailers to minimize service-level problems. However, service levels from manufacturers to our warehouse are as bad as they have ever been.
To summarize, there are plenty of challenges and opportunities abound for everyone in the grocery space. PWADC is holding its own in this competitive environment and continually making decisions that will benefit our cooperative and our members, both in the short and long term.