Albertsons Cos. has renewed its supply agreement with KeHE Distributors LLC as its primary distribution partner for natural, organic and specialty products.
“KeHE has been a key partner to Albertsons Cos. as we focus on delivering the great natural, organic and specialty products customers want when and how them want them, both in our stores and online,” Albertsons Chief Marketing and Merchandising Officer Shane Sampson said in a statement. “We are very pleased to renew this partnership.”
With a nationwide distribution network, KeHE provides natural, organic, specialty, ethnic and fresh products to chain and independent grocery and natural food stores throughout the U.S. The company over the summer unveiled its new online tool, BrandDriver. Designed to enable brands to engage, enable and fulfill orders with KeHE, BrandDriver allows the company’s vendor partners to maintain brand and price integrity, which Gene Carter, COO of KeHE, said, in turn, helps the company’s brick-and-mortar retail partners.
“Albertsons is a premier U.S. food retailer. Their blue-chip portfolio of banners, emerging omnichannel capabilities and national scale position the company for growth and success,” said Brandon Barnholt, president and CEO of KeHE. “We are very excited and honored to continue to serve them.”
The renewed partnership comes after a strong year of growth for KeHE supported by national distribution infrastructure, strong sales growth and enhanced technology, the company said. Following several years of acquisitions—including Monterrey Provisions in 2016—and new customer partnerships, KeHE reported strong performance in 2018 across each of its business segments, with sales in its independent channel approaching double-digit growth, according to KeHE.
“Independents continue to be innovation leaders in the rapidly-changing, omnichannel, food retailing world,” Brad Helmer, EVP of independent sales, marketing and business development for KeHE, said in a statement. “They are the fastest to adapt and differentiate their in-store experience to serve their customers.”
The company also expanded its large chain natural accounts, including the addition of Thrive Market, to its customer portfolio, as well as its seven-year partnership with Sprouts, which the company said accelerated its operational performance in multiple distribution centers.
KeHE said its chain grocery channel outpaced other channels, as many anchor retailers posted noteworthy sales gains in 2018, including Albertsons, which saw a 1.8% increase in net sales in its fiscal 2018 third quarter.
The company also doubled its investment in technology to enable smoother transactions across the supply chain, from ordering to shipping.
“We are busy creating the KeHE of the future,” said Brian Wilkinson, KeHE’s chief information officer. “By increasing our functionality and integrating tools that are necessary for today’s business, we’re constantly striving to improve our technology tools that we need for today and tomorrow’s business.”