Richfood Timeline

1935 -  Richfood, a Virginia-based cooperative wholesaler known as Richmond Food Stores, was formed and managed by its retailer members. The goal of the company was to ensure the survival of the small independent stores that were beginning to feel the pressures of competition from large supermarket chains. The supermarket concept--with its emphasis on service, name brands, and deep discounts had gradually taken hold since the 1920s and was becoming the standard form of retailing even in rural areas. Unfortunately, at Richfood there was little need for accountability. Patronage rebates and guaranteed price controls on stock were the chief indices by which the company and its members operated, and even thrived, for decades. Richfood's mission, according to Seth Lubove, "was simple: buy groceries from manufacturers, take a standard markup to cover costs and move the goods on to the retail grocers whenever they wanted them, and damn the costs."

Over the next several decades this cooperative system showed signs of failing. Its members began to realize that other, more efficient wholesalers provided better services, including capital loans which were necessary for expansion and renewed vitality. Fleming Foods of Virginia, a subsidiary of Fleming (which, through acquisition, was fast becoming the nation's largest wholesaler) was one company that contrasted sharply with Richfood. Asset rich and profit oriented, Fleming Foods was supported by a public company capable of offering its customers several advantages over the competition.

1955 -  Richfood introduced its private-label brand.

1966 - 
Richmond Food Stores embarked on a major expansion plan by acquiring 300 acres of land just north of Richmond, in Hanover County. Within four years, the company was operating out of its brand-new, $7.5 million facility.    


1973 -  The company bought another 104 acres in Hanover County and enlarged its modern distribution center.

The Universal Product Code (UPC) - the postage stamp sized symbol printed on packaged goods - was introduced. The brainchild of a consulting firm hired by a committee of grocery industry executives, it employed unique all-numeric codes to identify manufacturers and products for point-of-sale use. The first commercial scan was taken in 1974 at a supermarket in Troy, Ohio.

1974 - 
Richmond Food Stores, Inc. officially changed its name to Richfood, Inc. to boost recognition of its private-label products and reflect the company's expanding geographic reach. The company was supplying retailers in Virginia, North Carolina, West Virginia, Maryland, Delaware and the District of Columbia.    


1980 - 
Richfood introduced a line of products under its new ECON label to help its members contend more effectively with competition from "no-frills" grocery stores and generic products. The company's ECON line was comprised of over 250 different items.    


1987 -  In July, Richfood Holdings was organized as the successor to the Richfood wholesale grocery company.

1988 - 
Richfood, whose annual sales had passed the $1 billion mark, made industry and corporate history by becoming the first cooperative in the nation to convert directly to a publicly held corporation. The company's newly issued common shares were traded on NASDAQ under the symbol RCHFA.    


1990 - 
Richfood secures a new managment team and a new corporate mission - to be the industry's lowest-cost provider and to offer its customers support services that are unmatched in scope. Under the new leadership, Richfood disposes of underperforming assets, closes or consolidates excess warehouse and office facilities and reduces other operating, administrative and interest expenses.    


1991 - 
Richfood entered a new era of growth by acquiring the Waynesboro, Virginia, division of Fleming Companies, Inc. and becoming a licensed wholesaler of the Independant Grocers Alliance (IGA), the largest and most successful association of independant grocers in the United States. Richfood was soon offering its customers more than 500 products that bear the familiar IGA label.    


1993 -  Richfood purchased the Civilian Wholesale Division of B. Green & Company, Inc., in Baltimore, Maryland. The acquisition added substantial volume to the existing sales base in the northern portion of Richfood's operating area.

1994 - 
Richfood acquired Rotelle, Inc., one of the largest wholesale frozen food distributors in the United States. Rotelle, headquartered in West Point, Pennsylvania, operateed a highly automated distribution facility and had annual revenues of approximately $340 million.    


1995 - 
Richfood entered into a "strategic alliance" with Norfolk-based Camellia Food Stores, Inc. Under the agreement, Richfood purchased Camellia's wholesale inventory, transportation fleet and fluid dairy and began providing Camellia Food Stores and many of its customers with procurement, distribution and transportation services under long-term contracts.    


Richfood acquired Super Rite Corporation, a full service grocery wholesaler with $1.47 billion in net sales, located in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Super Rite also operated a retail grocery division, which consisted of the METRO/BASICS supermarkets in metropolitan Baltimore, Maryland. The acquisition doubled the size of Richfood, making it the fourth largest wholesale food distributor in the U. S.

1996 -  Richfood acquired substantially all of the assets of Norristown Wholesale, Inc., a wholesale distributor of produce and other perishable food items. Norristown Wholesale, headquartered near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, supplied a full range of fresh produce, fruits and vegetables to over 400 retail supermarkets in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey and Virginia.

1997 -  Virginia-based Farm Fresh chain was acquired by Richfood Holdings

1998 -  Washington D.C.-based Shoppers Food Warehouse and The Dart Group were acquired by Richfood Holdings.

1999 - 
Richfood Holdings Inc, announced it will lose a $600 million annual contract with its largest customer, the Pennsylvania chain known as Giant Food of Carlisle.

Richfood merged with SUPERVALU. In what both companies described at the time of the merger as "a powerful combination," the acquisition consolidated Richfood, the premier regional food distributor, into SUPERVALU's national network, and, significantly, brought to SUPERVALU a major food retailing presence in the Mid-Atlantic with nearly $1.8 billion in retail food sales. The acquisition increased SUPERVALU's geographic reach as the nation's leading food distributor to supermarkets across America.