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Harvest time.

Harvest Foods Inc. is reaping a harvest in both the wholesale and retail grocer areas in Arkansas.

The Little Rock-based company, with 54 stores statewide, leads both lists as compiled by Arkansas Business.

The wholesale grocer list is a ranking by market share and reflects Arkansas companies selling to Arkansas stores. It does not include out-of-state companies selling to in-state stores.

However, the retail list does indicate the impact of out-of-state wholesalers to Arkansas. The retail ranking is determined by estimated 1991 revenues.

Since all the grocery chains ranked are private companies, exact revenues are difficult, if not impossible, to calculate.

Harvest Foods' 54 stores push it above second-place Kroger Co. of North Little Rock and third-place Phillips Co. of Bentonville on the retail list.

As for wholesalers, it's a close battle between Harvest Foods and Affiliated Food Stores Inc. of Little Rock. Harvest Foods held a 35-33 percent edge last year.

The Kroger Co., with a district warehouse in North Little Rock as part of its memphis, Tenn.-based Delta Marketing Area, is third at 25 percent.

"Anytime you come in first in those categories, you have to be pleased," says Mike Marcussen, director of public affairs for Harvest Foods. "We're an Arkansas-based company and, being a leader in both categories, we appreciate our customers helping put us there.

"We have a team of approximately 3,000 people working to provide the best in quality and service. These surveys reflect that."

Marcussen says Harvest Foods continues to remain sensitive to value and service to the customers.

One example, he says, is its double-money back policy on perishables. Also, earlier this year, the company introduced three private labels available through the store that Marcussen says exhibit top quality.

Affiliated Foods continues to grow.

The company has added 54 new members throughout Arkansas, Texas, Mississippi and Louisiana this year, bringing its total count to 297 stores. AF also serves stores in Oklahoma and Tennessee.

Last weekend, Affiliated Foods had its annual stockholders meeting at the Excelsior Hotel in Little Rock with Paul Harvey as the keynote speaker and 700 stockholders in attendance.

"Our business has been real good," says Jerry Davis, Affiliated Foods president. "We're running a 15-percent increase over last year. It's an exciting time for our stockholders and retailers."

No Wholesale Changes

Davis says the market share numbers have stayed basically the same for some time.

"The way things are now, we may be up a little, Harvest down a little this year," he says. "That figure is pretty consistent.

"We've had a big growth, but a lot of it has been out of the Arkansas market. We picked up 19 new members in Arkansas this year."

Davis sees even more growth for the company in the future. A competitor in Monroe, La., recently consolidated with a Lafayette, La., group and moved, further opening the north Louisiana market. Affiliated Foods opened an office in Monroe. Last year, it opened an office in Dallas to handle its strong Texas market.

While the Little Rock-based chains may dominate the two lists, smaller family owned operations are prospering.

One good example is the Magnolia-based Smitty's Food Stores.

"Our business is good," says Smitty's President Fred Smith. "We're running the same against last year's sales and we're comparing 11 stores to 11 stores.

"We've redone two stores in the last year. In the quarter we just ended, we had a 12-percent increase."

Smitty's serves 10 cities in south Arkansas -- Hope, Prescott, Gurdon, Lewisville, Stamps, Stephens, Camden, Fordyce, El Dorado and Magnolia.

Smith, on the Affiliated Foods board of directors, started his company 21 years ago with his wife and his brother, Rufus. The Smiths opened one store in Magnolia and another in Camden. A little more than two years ago, they opened their 10th and 11th stores.

Individual stores, particularly in El Dorado and Prescott, have experienced recent growth. The El Dorado establishment was increased from 16,000 to 36,000 SF and turned into a superstore with a bakery, deli, one-hour photo, video center, pharmacy and floral department. In Prescott, Smitty's moved to a larger location (17,500 SF from 8,000 SF) across town.

Smith says he and other independents should have continued success.

"One reason is, we can make quick decisions," he says. "We don't have to go through a board room. We can decide today and do it tomorrow, or start it this afternoon. That's one of the big advantages of an independent, cutting out a lot of red tape.

"And if you get somebody like Affiliated Foods that has the buying power, they can buy as well as Harvest or Kroger and we can compete with the chains."
COPYRIGHT 1992 Journal Publishing, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Harvest Foods Inc.
Author:Harris, Jim
Publication:Arkansas Business
Article Type:Company Profile
Date:Sep 14, 1992
Previous Article:New mindset.
Next Article:Dillard Department Stores Inc.

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