AWG’s growth didn’t slow down to start it’s next decade of existence. In 2016, the co-op celebrated 90 years of serving independent grocery retailers and grew its footprint to over 3,800 stores in 36 states with the successful unification of Affiliated Foods Midwest, which brought about AWG’s newest divisions in Norfolk, Nebraska and Kenosha, Wisconsin. AWG’s expanded footprint increased to 8 million square feet and included eleven modern facilities positioned to serve the midwest, southwest, south, and southeast for decades to come. The expansion also helped push sales to $9.18B.
The greater Chicago area became the location of a substantial amount of growth for AWG in 2017. One of the oldest and largest cooperatives serving independent retailers across the Chicagoland area closed their doors in May 2017 and 254 new stores joined the AWG cooperative. Overall new business growth for AWG in 2017 totaled over 300 stores and nearly $2 billion in additional sales. This meant AWG now served more independent retailers across the country than any other cooperative wholesaler in the United States and reached $9.7B in sales.
In order to continue to maintain the lowest possible cost of operation, AWG also made the determination in 2017 to consolidate its Fort Worth division business into the more efficient and productive Oklahoma City distribution center. Separately, given the sale and subsequent closing of the Fort Worth Distribution Center and the continuing decline in the military channel as a whole, AWG exited its Always Fresh military distribution business, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Associated Wholesale Grocers. To close out a year of transition in 2017, AWG also sold its wholly owned subsidiary, Retail Accounting Solutions, Inc., which had been formed in conjunction with the Affiliated Foods Midwest transaction in October 2016.
Overcoming intense retail competition and continued price deflation, AWG reported record consolidated net sales on continuing operations of $9.7 billion. The cooperative launched the new StoreFront retailer member information platform and held its first Innovation Showcase to highlight emerging technologies impacting retail. Product assortment and offerings through AWG and VMC continued to expand and the cooperative model provided ongoing opportunities for members to develop and grow unique and sustainable businesses that survive and thrive in an ever-changing retail environment.