UNFI To Acquire Blooming Prairie Co-op

August 6, 2002

2 Min Read
UNFI To Acquire Blooming Prairie Co-op

DAYVILLE, Conn.--United Natural Foods Inc. (UNFI) (NASDAQ:UNFI) signed a letter of intent to acquire Iowa City, Iowa-based Blooming Prairie Cooperative Warehouse, the largest volume distributor of natural foods in the Midwest. In business since 1974, Blooming Prairie had approximately $130 million in sales for the last 12 months. Terms of the proposed acquisition were not disclosed.

Blooming Prairie is owned by more than 2,200 retail stores, co-ops and buying clubs in the upper Midwest and employs approximately 280 people between its headquarters in Iowa and its other distribution facility in Mounds View, Minn.

"One of our stated goals has been to further broaden our presence and increase customer penetration in the fast-growing Midwest market," said Michael Fund, UNFI chief executive officer. "Acquiring Blooming Prairie's Iowa City and Minneapolis facilities will provide us with an immediate physical base as well as the growth platform to meet that goal and the volume to expand cost-effectively."

On Aug. 5, Blooming Prairie (www.bpco-op.com) mailed information to its members to support the proposal. Peter Roang, chair of Blooming Prairie's board of directors, noted the co-op is enjoying strong growth and that the proposal represents an opportunity for Blooming Prairie, one of the top regional distributors in the natural products industry, to join with a leading national company.

Finalization of the acquisition is contingent upon the execution of an asset purchase agreement and approval by the board members of both companies, as well as by the cooperative's members. UNFI (www.unfi.com) expects the transaction to close in its first (ending Oct. 31) or second quarter (ending Jan. 31, 2003) of fiscal 2003.

"The proposal in general is something we're seeing as an opportunity," said Susan Futrell, Blooming Prairie's director of communications. The future of the company's employees, executives and board members has not been decided nor released yet. "[The details] probably won't be released until our members have voted on it and both Blooming Prairie's and UNFI's boards have agreed [with the terms]," she added. Futrell also stated a vote will be scheduled once the purchase agreement has been finalized, which may be sometime in September.

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