In 1946, a group of enterprising store owners decided the best way for them to compete against the larger chains was to combine their buying strength and take control of their future. These 16 enterprising Independent Grocers formed what would grow to become Associated Grocers of New England. Their initial $1,000 investments set the foundation for what would become New England’s largest retailer-owned cooperative grocery wholesaler.
Initially operated from an 18,000 square foot warehouse in Concord, New Hampshire, the cooperative grew quickly, and in 1950, a larger warehouse facility was purchased in Manchester, New Hampshire. Five years later continued growth brought about the construction of a state-of-the-art facility on the outskirts of Manchester. Today, AG New England operates from a Distribution Center located in Pembroke, New Hampshire. Originally constructed in 2005, the 378,000 square foot facility allowed for greatly expanded product variety. Continued growth in customers and product lines necessitated an expansion of 105,000 square feet during 2014.
Included with the expansion was the installation of a state of the art system that allows the Distribution Center the ability to vastly expand the number of natural, organic and specialty items available in less than full case quantities. These growing categories have become increasingly important for retailers, and the ability to purchase in smaller quantities allows retailers to expand product offerings without investing in excessive inventory.
AG New England serves 140 independent grocery stores in Maine and 104 of them are stockholding Members of the Cooperative. Across all of New England, they serve over 600 grocers, with over 300 as stockholding Members. As a full service wholesaler, AG New England provides an extensive variety of products. With over 26,000 product lines available from the Distribution Center, and thousands more available through partnership programs with other vendors, AG New England is truly a one-stop shop for Independent Grocers.
Their support of the retailers they serve goes much deeper than product assortment. Services include retail bookkeeping, store design & equipment, advertising, marketing and retail business counseling. Stockholding members can take advantage of a multi-employer 401(k) plan, affordable health and life insurance programs, and a member savings program that offers higher than market interest. Periodically, AG New England has offered member retailers low-to-zero interest rates on loans for store renovations, equipment, and upgrading front-end systems.
In everything they do for their members, they strive to live up to their mission:
As a retailer owned wholesale cooperative, Associated Grocers of New England is dedicated to the success of its members and committed to serving the needs of independent grocers.