By Zak Romanoff
Last Thursday , October 27th the Key Food Vendor Summit was held at the Hilton Garden Inn in Staten Island, New York. Close to 800 people representing the vendor community were gathered. This is the 3rd year of the Vendor Summit, and the attendance and value shared has grown steadily each time. Multiple up-tempo video’s highlighted store growth, $ sales, and new happenings. The videos had the crowd laughing, applauding, and generally feeling excited.
Less than 5 years ago Key Food had 120 stores- today they have 240- and we found out that they plan to have a significant amount more by the end of 2017! This is bold growth in a highly segmented INDEPENDENT marketplace. Key Food was a big player in the A & P bankruptcy proceedings – picking up close to 20 stores. Additionally the co-op added close to 40 independent stores that converted from other banners. Store owners are switching partly because it is offering various forms of support to its diverse member base.
Chief Operating Officer George Knobloch explained to the group what Key Food corporate expects from the “perfect vendor”, and also highlighted the “top 5” and “bottom 5” vendors in each department. OMNI was glad to see one of the manufacturers we represent recognized as having #1 growth in their department.
Chief Executive Office Dean Janeway took the stage and spoke with clarity, purpose, and vision. When talking about the A & P acquisitions Dean said “ this was a once in a lifetime opportunity…stores this size do not become available like this very often… We moved in to bring in as many of the right stores as possible, and planned to figure the rest out later”. The best leaders tackle the hardest issues first and figure out the smaller details later.
George Knobloch and Dean Janeway make up a formidable leadership team.
Key Food has 2 corporate stores, similar to the Shop Rite “SRS” stores. This will allow for internal product tests/launches and also help Key better serve its membership.
Any food vendor looking to do business in New York must plan to see Key Food… the banner should be part of all marketing/promotional budget talks for New York. With Wakefern the clear #1 giant, Key Food is stepping into the #2 supermarket positon in the Metro NY Marketplace that A & P left vacant. The opportunity with co-op lies within its membership- the groups are not as big in store count as ShopRite- there are no 30 store groups. But if a vendor is willing to invest the time and resources to sell Key Food – there rewards are tangible.