FER Top Dealers Grew Combined Sales 13.5% In 2015

The 61 U.S. and Canadian dealers verifying sales for Foodservice Equipment Reports’ annual Top Dealers Report posted another remarkable year in 2015. Combined sales for the 58 U.S. companies that verified sales rose 13.5% to $6.653 billion, up from $5.863 billion in 2014. In comparison, FER estimates the total foodservice equipment and supplies market grew 4.8% in nominal terms at the manufacturer level last year. The 2015 Top Dealers growth rate also exceeded that of 2014, when sales rose 10.6%. It’s the fifth consecutive year the Top Dealers have posted double-digit sales gains.

In Canada, three verifying dealers reported combined sales grew 4.2%, a rate of growth that outpaced Restaurants Canada’s estimate of foodservice operator growth of 4%. The Canadian economy saw gross domestic product decline two quarters last year as oil prices plunged.

Once again, a big story in the U.S. market is the increasing impact of Clark Associates, which the runs the market-leading WebstaurantStore.com website, among other E&S enterprises. The company grew by nearly $188 million in 2015, a sales surge of 42.3% last year. Other Internet-oriented dealers also posted good gains.

Five other of the Top 10—Edward Don, the Boelter Cos., Singer Equipment, Bargreen Ellingson and Hockenbergs—posted double-digit gains in 2015. Boelter, Bargreen and Hockenbergs benefited from strategic acquisitions. All 10 had sales gains of 5% or more. And with Clark included, the Top 10 posted a combined sales gain of 14.2%.

Beyond the performance of the Top 10, a diverse group of dealers posted very sales strong growth last year: 18 of the 58 posted gains of 15% or more. Including Clark, five dealers saw sales jump 30% or more. The top half, 29 dealers of the 58 that verified, grew 13.9%. The second half of Top Dealers also had a good year with combined sales growth of 9.1%. Eight of the 58 reported sales declines last year, compared with 10 out of 57 that verified 2014 sales.

No particular dealer niche outgrew the others. Some chain specialists saw strong gains, others were down. Most bid-oriented houses saw gains, but not all. Street-oriented companies in major urban areas were also mostly up, but a few were flat or down.

While a flurry of acquisitions in 2014 benefited a number of dealers in 2015, merger and sales activity since mid-2015 has been remarkably quiet.

Of course, the major trend made clear by these annual reports, other than the growth of Internet sales, is one of increasing consolidation. The big continue to get bigger as the E&S distribution channel consolidates and becomes more national in scope. The full Top Dealers Report will be published in the June issue of FER.

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