ASG Growth Thrived in 2020, A Win for Independents

Rising above the unprecedented challenges of 2020, Associated Supermarket Group, a retail solutions and finance company based in New York, led independent supermarket growth by adding 34 new accounts to its $1.6 billion retail network. In recent years, as regional grocery chains have filed for bankruptcy or shut down, ASG saw a shift in commitment from independents to persevere, strengthening amid the COVID-19 pandemic, to serve the public.

In 2020, ASG expanded to North Jersey, where it welcomed two new stores to the network: The Highlands Market by Shopwell in Hewitt, and Buddy’s Marketplace in Manalapan. In New York City, ASG gained 23 new supermarkets, including expansion ventures for Lincoln Market, Antillana, and Associated Fresh supermarkets, which are urban family operators. These families and the 23 new supermarkets are a lifeline to serve the needs of New York City neighborhoods at a time when grocery stores are among the few businesses allowed to keep their doors open. Fortunately, these stores serve communities that have suffered disproportionately from COVID-19’s devastating social and economic impact.

Out east on Long Island, ASG ensured that its customers, including two newcomers, met their aggressive growth plans to serve the uptick in at-home-consumption rates of suburban consumers who increasingly work and learn remotely at home during the pandemic. ASG welcomed the ninth Uncle Giuseppe’s Marketplace at 1170 Deer Park Ave in North Babylon and the ninth Giunta’s Meat Farm at 399 Medford Ave in Patchogue to the portfolio of non-bannered stores it powers. In addition, ASG picked up five secondary accounts.

Coupled with store growth during 2020, ASG addressed the digital divide issue for independent supermarkets. To ensure that independents have an e-commerce presence as more consumers cite time savings and safety precaution during the pandemic as two reasons for shifting to online grocery shopping, ASG established a partnership with Instacart to bridge the e-commerce gap for the 230-plus stores it serves. In addition to Instacart, ASG will continue to offer an in-house e-commerce solution with the Rosie app.

During 2021, ASG, which currently has a presence in seven states, will focus its business development resources on expansion and continue to strengthen the retail network of stores it serves. ASG is committed to increase entrepreneurship by providing the services, scale and expertise that allow independent supermarkets to thrive on their independence.

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AUA Private Equity Consummates Sale of Associated Supermarket Group to Senior Management

Port Washington, NY – January 12, 2021 – AUA Private Equity Partners, LLC (“AUA Private Equity”) is pleased to announce that it has consummated the sale of Associated Supermarket Group, LLC (“ASG”), to ASG’s senior management, led by Joe Garcia (CEO) and Zulema Wiscovitch (EVP & CAO) with financing from Freedom 3 Capital and other investors. ASG provides retail solutions to approximately 230 independently owned grocery stores in the New York Tri-State Area and other cities along the U.S. Eastern Seaboard, providing distribution, marketing, merchandising, promotional services, and store financing. Under the new structure, Joe and Zulema will share responsibilities of co-President and co-CEO.

Over its hold, AUA Private Equity was instrumental in evolving ASG from a family-owned business to an institutional company providing supermarket retail solutions and services to independent grocery operators. Under AUA Private Equity’s ownership, ASG acquired four prominent New York supermarket banners, expanded its store footprint into contiguous geographies, built institutional systems and processes, and recruited a leading management team.

Andy Unanue, Managing Partner of AUA Private Equity and Chairman of ASG, stated: “I am very proud of how AUA Private Equity strengthened the value proposition of ASG during our ownership and delivered long-lasting benefits for independent grocers that operate stores in multicultural communities.”

Steven Flyer, Partner of AUA Private Equity, commented: “Our investment in ASG reflects AUA Private Equity’s ongoing strategy of investing in family-owned companies where we can institutionalize a privately-held business, expand the company’s service offerings, and accelerate growth. Our sale to the company’s management team is a very good outcome for our investors, our management team, and ASG’s customers, and positions ASG as a leading provider of retail solutions and distribution to independent retailers.”

Joe Garcia, co-President & co-CEO of ASG, added: “I have enjoyed our partnership with AUA and I am excited to begin the next chapter for ASG under management ownership. We look forward to continuing to serve our customers, expand our footprint to other areas, and offer a tremendous value that positions the supermarkets we service ahead of their competition.”

Zulema Wiscovitch, co-President & co-CEO of ASG stated, “We are thrilled to embark on this journey as we envision ASG’s future of continued growth with an emphasis on retail excellence, an outstanding value proposition and innovation for the benefit of our customers, and our mutual success in the marketplace. We have a phenomenal team of people who are laser-focused on accomplishing our goals and growth objectives.”

The sale transaction was led by Partner Steven Flyer, Vice President Jack Lin, and Associate Greg Conway. McDermott Will & Emery provided legal advice and RSM US LLP provided financial and accounting advice to AUA Private Equity. Ancoris Capital Partners acted as financial advisor to ASG management and the buying group.

About AUA Private Equity Partners, LLC

AUA Private Equity Partners is an operationally focused, lower middle-market investment firm providing strategic capital to companies in the consumer products and services sectors with a particular focus on family-owned businesses or companies benefiting from the growth of the U.S. Hispanic population. AUA Private Equity makes equity investments of $20 to $75 million in companies that generate in excess of $5 million in EBITDA. For more information on AUA Private Equity, please visit www.auaequity.com.

About Associated Supermarket Group, LLC

ASG provides retail solutions to approximately 230 independently owned grocery stores in the New York Tri-State Area and other cities along the U.S. Eastern Seaboard. The Company licenses its “Associated”, “Compare”, “Met Foods”, “Pioneer”, “MetFresh” and “Metropolitan Citymarkets” proprietary trade names to independent grocery store owners and provides services in the form of grocery distribution, marketing, merchandising, promotional services, advertising, and store financing. For more information on Associated Supermarket Group, LLC, please visit www.asghq.com.

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ASG welcomes the ninth Uncle Giuseppe’s Marketplace to its retail network

Photo Credit: David Conn.

Pictured at the grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony of Uncle Giuseppe’s in North Babylon are (left to right): Suffolk County Legislator Tom Donnelly, Town of Babylon Councilman Terence McSweeny, Babylon I.D.A. board member Linda Scordino, President of the North Babylon Chamber of Commerce President Garrett Simulcik, Uncle Giuseppe’s President & Chairman of the Board Philip DelPrete, Town of Babylon Supervisor Richard Schaffer (centered – cutting the ribbon), Uncle Giuseppe’s Chief Executive Officer Carl DelPrete, Town of Babylon Deputy Supervisor Antonio A. Martinez, New York State Senator Mario Mettera, and New York State Assemblyman Keith P. Brown.

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ASG’s “We Are The Community” wins the 2020 American Graphic Design Awards for Best Motion and Illustration

ASG’s Social Media ad, We Are the Community wins the 2020 GDUSA Award for Best Motion and Illustration. The 2020 GDUSA Design Annual showcases the expansive ways in which graphic design shapes business and society.

Last spring, the pandemic took the NY metro area by surprise and all non-essential establishments were ordered to close. As at-home consumption rose at alarming rates, so did consumer panic buying. ASG recognized the crisis and modified its banner social media strategy to seek public cooperation to shop safely while ensuring both customers and store personnel remained safe.

On March 19th, 2020, a series of short motion videos on the Associated, Met Foods, Pioneer and Compare Foods social channels made sure their respective customers knew that stores were operating and adjusting practices as the pandemic evolved. This award-winning ad generated 4.3M impressions on Facebook and Instagram. Additionally, the campaign received 1.1M post engagements (including sharing) and 66K reactions (Like, Love, Haha, Wow, Sad or Angry) and has now earned national recognition.  


Click HERE to see and hear full ad.

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ASG works together with industry and community partners to help alleviate food insecurity

During the spring of 2020, in less than 60 days the coronavirus left 2 million New York City residents facing food insecurity. ASG is closing the year with a food donation equivalent to 571,300 meals to help feed New Yorkers in an unprecedented year, a year where we witnessed the hardships happening in our own backyards.

Feeding America reported food banks in its network distributed nearly 57% more food in the third quarter of 2020, compared with the same period in 2019. Because ASG store owners are involved in their communities and through the direct relationships we have with civic leaders, food banks, media, and our wholesaler C&S, together we helped alleviate some of the food insecurity in 2020.

2020’s food donation recipients were City Harvest, Food Bank of NYC, Queensborough Community College, Rap4Bronx, and community centers in Brooklyn, The Bronx, and Brookhaven.

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ASG Statement on Met Foods and Store Protocols

We have zero tolerance for racial injustice, violence, bigotry and hate and were very disturbed by what happened on June 7th.

We have discussed our position on the incident with the store owner and he has committed to taking measures, including the implementation of store protocols to ensure this does not happen again. We plan to monitor the implementation and compliance of these protocols.

ASG provides independent supermarket owners – many of whom are immigrants or first-generation families pursuing their American Dream – with retail solutions and services to help them succeed.

As part of this mission and striving to be catalysts for positive change, we will provide the stores we serve with practical training to address security and public safety issues. This training will educate store owners on how to establish procedures and strengthen existing security plans, implement a crisis management plan, and train employees on proper de-escalation protocols to help manage future shoplifting situations and other security concerns. Our objective is to prevent the mishandling of situations like these from happening in the future.

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ASG Statement on Community and Justice

We stand with the community against racial injustice, violence, and hate. We support peaceful demonstrations but condemn hostility and crime.

The independent, family-owned, and operated supermarkets we serve, are part of the fabric of the communities where they operate. During this global pandemic, these supermarkets and their essential workers are on the front lines, servicing the vital food supply needs of the community.

Diversity and inclusion matter to us inside and outside of our headquarters.  We will continue to invest in and support the diverse small businesses that operate under our trade names, Associated, Associated Fresh, Compare Foods, Met Food, Met Fresh, Pioneer, and other independent names.

ASG’s mission is to provide independent supermarket owners with retail solutions and services to succeed without compromising the freedom to run their stores, as many of them are immigrants or first-generation families pursuing their American Dream.  We continue to build community economic growth by investing in multicultural and economically diverse retail opportunities. The ASG team and its leadership mirror the multicultural world where we do business. We believe diversity drives opportunity and we are committed to stand united for justice with the communities we serve.

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ASG Promotes Michelle Mendoza to VP of Marketing & Customer Experience and Francisco Nieves to VP of Sales

May 5, 2020

I am pleased to announce the promotion of Michelle Mendoza to Vice President of Marketing & Customer Experience and Francisco Nieves to Vice President of Sales.

Michelle joined the company in June of 2016, with over 10 years of marketing experience.

This promotion recognizes Michelle’s many contributions to ASG, especially her role in rising the profile of our core banners Associated, Compare, Met Foods and Pioneer, the development of our house brand Avenue A, the implementation of our marketing initiatives and the improvements of our Customer Experience department.

She will continue to report to me as she leads the company’s marketing, communications and customer experience initiatives to position ASG and its brands as an integral part of our success.

With over 23 years of experience, Francisco joined ASG in 2017, as our Senior Director of Sales where he focused on securing new store opportunities and growing our existing stores sales.

This promotion recognizes Francisco’s leading role in growing the company’s sales and his efforts coaching his team to elevate their level of performance and service to our customers.

He will continue to report to me as we strive to increase sales while improving ASG’s value proposition to our customers. Francisco plays a significant role in the future growth of the company.

Please join me in congratulating Michelle and Francisco on his well-deserved promotion.

Cheers!

 

 

 

Zulema T. Wiscovitch

Executive Vice President

& Chief Administrative Officer

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SN Off The Shelf: Associated Supermarkets meet worker, shopper needs in hard-hit New York

For independent supermarkets in the hard-hit New York area — which are frequently smaller neighborhood stores with narrow aisles in close quarters — COVID-19 has created a number of challenges, including lack of employees and an uncertain supply of goods due to the pandemic. The daily restocking of shelves due to the unprecedented demand from customers, as well as the constant sanitizing of stores, has taken a toll on these supermarkets and their employees.

Read more: https://www.supermarketnews.com/retail-financial/associated-supermarkets-meet-worker-shopper-needs-hard-hit-new-york

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Family Owned Independent Supermarkets Strive to Service Their Customers Despite Challenges

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT:
Michelle Mendoza
516-256-3100
michelle.mendoza@asghq.com

Family Owned Independent Supermarkets Strive to Service Their Customers Despite Challenges
Plea for public cooperation to keep supermarkets safe amid COVID-19

Port Washington, NY, April 15, 2020– Independent supermarkets are open and servicing their customer’s grocery needs despite facing many challenges, including lack of employees and an uncertain supply of goods due to the pandemic. Supermarket owners along with their employees are on the front lines, opening their doors every day to keep food and other necessities accessible to their customers, while complying with newly established regulations, such as social distancing and overcrowding.

Due to the tremendous demand for food, paper and cleaning items created by the circumstances surrounding COVID-19, including an increased at-home consumption, supermarkets are facing supply challenges as wholesalers and manufacturers can’t keep up with the demand. Additionally, the virus has also affected manufacturing plants
and wholesalers.

The lack of employees and difficulties finding employees willing to work at supermarkets, is another challenge that these family owned businesses have encountered. The daily restocking of shelves due to the unprecedented demand from customers have taken a toll on these supermarkets and their employees.

Nonetheless, most of these independent supermarkets are taking steps and protocols to implement the CDC’s and the State’s recommendations to ensure the public and their employees stay safe, including social distancing, crowd control, providing masks and gloves to their employees, installing plexiglass at register areas, and professionally
sanitizing the premises with frequency.

Supermarket owners are asking the public’s cooperation to shop safely. “Most customers are taking precautions by covering their faces, shopping with one or two people at most, and maintaining a safe social distance between other customers when inside the stores. But we still need public cooperation and mindfulness that our supermarkets are smaller, and we need to protect our employees in order to continue to operate during this crisis. We are asking that people cover their mouth and nose when shopping, have patience to come into the store and to discard of their gloves and masks in the proper receptacles. Our employees should not have to increase their exposure because of customer’s littering their used personal protective equipment,” said Bill Fani, owner of Met Foods and The Village Barn supermarkets in Staten Island and Queens.

“Many of the stores we serve are stepping up their hygiene and sanitation efforts to hospital grade sterilizations,” said Joe Garcia, President and CEO of Associated Supermarket Group, “and the investment is a significant one for these small businesses. Public collaboration is needed with proper hygiene and discipline so that we can continue to support the stores with retail services and solutions to operate safely while fighting the silent enemy, COVID19.” ASG has arranged for supermarkets in the network to have access to PPE for their employees, in addition to sneeze guards for registers and proper social distancing signage. It’s main supplier C&S Wholesale Grocers has adapted a no-contact delivery system.

“We are providing the supermarkets in our group important information to navigate this very challenging time; from legislation changes to templates with protocols to be posted in the stores for the public’s benefit”, said Zulema Wiscovitch, Executive Vice President & CAO of ASG. “We are also leveraging our media and advertising vehicles to drive public awareness with the campaign Shop Safely, Stay Healthy, which promotes safe grocery
shopping and best practices to stay healthy and halt the spread of the virus”, she added.

Associated Supermarket Group, LLC (ASG) serves independently owned supermarkets in the New York Tri-State Area and other cities along the U.S. Eastern Seaboard. ASG provides store financing, leverages its relationships with suppliers and vendors, as well as its collective buying power to provide efficient procurement, distribution, marketing, merchandising, advertising, promotion and other retail solutions. ASG’s supermarket banners include Associated, Compare, Met Foods, Met Fresh, Metropolitan City Market, Pioneer and other independently named stores.

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