Foodtown (United States)

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Foodtown
TypeRetailers' cooperative
IndustryGrocery
Founded1935
HeadquartersAvenel, New Jersey, U.S.
ProductsBakery, dairy, deli, frozen foods, grocery, meat, pharmacy, produce, seafood, snacks, liquor
Websitefoodtown.com
 
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Foodtown
TypeRetailers' cooperative
IndustryGrocery
Founded1935
HeadquartersAvenel, New Jersey, U.S.
ProductsBakery, dairy, deli, frozen foods, grocery, meat, pharmacy, produce, seafood, snacks, liquor
Websitefoodtown.com

Foodtown is a northeastern United States supermarket cooperative founded in 1935 by Twin County Grocers, Inc. Currently, there are 44 Foodtown stores; 19 in central New Jersey, 18 in New York, and 7 in eastern Pennsylvania.

Foodtown's corporate offices are located in Avenel, New Jersey. However, like competing supermarket cooperative ShopRite, all Foodtown stores are independently owned and operated, either by one person, or by companies operating multiple stores. Foodtown also distributes its store-brand items to several independent grocery stores on a contract basis.

History[edit]

In the 1980s and 1990s, Foodtown was a major player on Long Island and in New Jersey. At the height of its success in 1994, Foodtown's Twin County Grocers, the chief supplier headed by Martin Vitale, who also served as CEO of the cooperative, supplied 165 Foodtown stores and had wholesale revenue of over $1 billion. About a third of those stores were operated by Mayfair Supermarkets, Inc. and Melmarkets Inc., who were the two largest members of the cooperative.

In 1995 Dutch retailer Royal Ahold, owner of the Edwards Super Food Store banner in the New York metropolitan area, was looking to expand its footprint in the area. The firm bought the 45 stores operated by Melmarkets and Mayfair, whose successful stores had made up over half of the sales volume in the Foodtown cooperative. Almost immediately after the purchase, all 45 Melmarkets and Mayfair Foodtowns were converted to Edwards stores. Foodtown's financial state took an immediate and severe hit, and combined with a growing scandal inside the cooperative the problems only got worse. (The Melmarkets and Mayfair stores were eventually converted to Stop & Shop after Ahold elected to end the Edwards brand name, and those that have not since closed or been replaced by a newer store are currently doing business as Stop & Shop.)

In 1998, Foodtown declared bankruptcy and the depths of the scandal, involving embezzlement among other things, surfaced. Following these events, many Foodtown stores converted to other banners, or closed. The closures included the remaining six stores owned by cooperative CEO Martin Vitale;[1] Vitale previously owned a store in Saddle Brook, New Jersey, that closed well before the bankruptcy. In 2004, Foodtown closed its warehouse; it now is serviced by various wholesalers. The cooperative is still responsible for negotiating with suppliers, Foodtown advertising, promotions, and marketing programs.

Since the late 1990s, Foodtown has shown a resurgence, opening five stores in Pennsylvania and bringing stores, which left the cooperative following the scandal, back into the fold. In addition, many of the existing members have expanded and/or remodeled their stores.

Foodtown operated a total of 66 stores at the height of their resurgence, but the number has since dipped to 47. Of these stores, 40 of them are concentrated in New Jersey and New York with 6 in eastern Pennsylvania. As noted above, the Foodtown store brand is also available in various independent grocery stores that contract with the cooperative's wholesalers.

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