Independents rule: 2016 Top 50 list.


SN’s annual list of the Top 50 Small Chains and Independents has several new faces this year, after four of last year’s companies moved up to SN’s Top 75 Retailers and Wholesalers in the U.S. and Canada.

At the apex of this year’s independent roster is Vallarta Supermarkets, a Sylmar, Calif.-based operator catering to a primarily Hispanic consumer base in the Greater Los Angeles area. The addition of three new stores during the year — for a total of 47 locations — helped push it to No. 1 from No. 8 a year ago.

Nipping at Vallarta’s heels is Rouses Enterprises, which caters to consumers along the Gulf Coast. Despite operating three fewer stores — for a total of 43 locations — Rouses moved to No. 2 on the list from No. 7 last year.

In third place is PAQ, Stockton, Calif., which operates 19 stores in Northern California (one more than a year ago) and 24 in Hawaii. PAQ was No. 6 a year ago.

Jerry’s Enterprises, Edina, Minn. — which operates under a variety of banners — made a big leap this year, landing at No. 4 from No. 13 last year, due in large part to opening five additional stores.

At No. 5 is Marsh Supermarkets, Indianapolis, falling from No. 3 a year ago with the closings of six locations.

No. 6 on the list is H Mart, an Asian American operator based in Lyndhurst, N.J., which moved to this year’s Top 50 list after appearing on SN’s Top 75 list in 2015; followed at No. 7 by Redner’s Warehouse Markets, Reading, Pa., a chain of warehouse stores and convenience stores that moved up from No. 10 a year ago.

Completing the top 10 companies on the list are Festival Foods, Onalaska, Wis., at No. 8 — compared with No. 11 last year — with one additional store; Fairway Market, New York, at No. 9 — up from No. 12 — with three additional stores; and Niemann Foods, Quincy, Ill., which added three convenience stores to its diversified base and moved to No. 10 from No. 15 in 2015.

Disappearing from the list is Haggen, which stood at No. 38 a year ago — just before beginning a major expansion into Southern California, Arizona and Nevada that failed and prompted its owners to initiate efforts to sell the entire chain.

Making their Top 50 debuts on this year’s list at Nos. 47 through 50 are Market Basket Foods, Nederland, Texas; Town & Country Grocers, Fredericktown, Mo.; Mars Super Markets, Glen Burnie, Md.; and Red Apple Group, New York.

As the list demonstrates, independent operators are finding more opportunities to grow their store base and their businesses as the industry’s larger companies continue to consolidate.

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