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Distribution and Supply Chain Groups Announce New Joint Venture

(October 31, 2012)—Legacy Foodservice Alliance, LLC of Glen Allen, VA, and Bellissimo Foods Co., LLC, of Walnut Creek, CA, announce that they have formed a joint venture to collectively manage their supply side efforts. Named Group Purchasing Alliance (GPA), the new venture will be responsible for managing group supplier agreements, procurement, brand development, marketing, and service programs.

Peter Thor of Bellissimo and Stephen Push of Legacy will act as co-CEOs of GPA, and both are quick to point out that this is not a merger, but rather a strategic combination of supply chain strengths.  "We¹ve come together to further punctuate our belief that collaboration is critical for the future of independent distributors.  GPA will be comprised of more than 150 distributor locations," commented Thor.

Bellissimo is a long established group focused on serving the needs of distributors who specialize in pizzerias, Italian and mediterranean dining.  Legacy, which was formed in response to a mega-business combination in the group business, serves a more broadline clientele. Legacy is riding a steep growth curve, as the group has gone from zero to more than 100 distributor locations since its creation just three years ago.  While both groups work with a broad array of suppliers, because of the nature of their distributor memberships, each has special expertise in center-of-the-plate, refrigerated, and fresh products.

The alliance will result in more suppliers being given the opportunity to market to many more distributor members under the larger group umbrella.  While the supplier relationships will continue to be managed by both groups' headquarters, for simplicity sake, most every supplier will have only one point of contact for the entire distributor network, thereby streamlining communication lines, reducing travel costs, and improving speed to market.  The venture will also expose each group¹s distributor members to many more supply opportunities.  While both groups have supplier lists that number in the hundreds, only about twenty percent of the suppliers currently do business with both groups. 

"We see huge upside sales potential for both distributor and supplier members, as GPA gains prominence in the industry," noted Don Hughes, executive vice president of merchandising for Legacy.

While the supply chain efforts are uniting, the groups are steadfastly guarding their own go-to-market identities.  To our distributor members and to our operator customers, Bellissimo will be Bellissimo, and Legacy will remain Legacy," said Thor.  "Both companies have great investment in brand equity, and we don¹t want to do anything to dilute or negatively impact that equity.  Just as importantly, we love the distinct cultures the two organizations have developed."

"Distributor support and development will continue to come through normal processes and people currently in place," added Deb Winter, executive vice president of distribution at Legacy.

Bringing the two organizations together was no coincidence.  "As we began to get acquainted, we quickly realized we share a common vision.  Distributors and suppliers are considered customers by both groups, and the only lasting successes are created when all parties win.  We believe that having a focused group of distributors and suppliers working together creates the best outcomes and that we all have a vested interest in the future of independent distributors.  So we quickly found a large parcel of common ground," stated Push.

For the short term, Group Purchasing Alliance will focus on expanding supplier program reach, harmonizing common supplier programs, and improving rebate tracking and reporting.  Longer-term objectives include expansion of group marketing programs, expansion of proprietary brands offerings, open access to shared service providers, and combined hosting of some group events.  GPA has also created provisions for other procurement and marketing groups from a variety of industries to join under the umbrella.  "We¹ve created a platform where a diverse group of businesses can share services, better manage costs, and expand the size of the pie, thereby creating more opportunities for success," added Thor.

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