retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Bloomberg has a piece about C&S Wholesale Grocers Chairman Richard B. Cohen, described as "one of the 100 richest people in the world and the second-wealthiest man in New England," who has "transformed C&S into the world’s largest grocery wholesaler since taking the helm of the business in 1989."

While the piece acknowledges that Cohen likes to stay under the radar and has not given an interview in a decade, he has "managed to make money in an industry bedeviled by small profit margins and mismanagement by focusing on efficiency and paying his workers extra to avoid mistakes."

The story notes that C&S "had sales of $21.7 billion in 2012, distributing more than 95,000 products to 4,000 supermarkets from Maine to Hawaii. Cohen is the business’ sole owner ... He has a net worth of $11.2 billion, according to the Bloomberg index, and has never appeared on an international wealth ranking -- a status one associate said suits him just fine."

“I’m not sure I’ve met anyone as smart, analytic and quantitatively driven as Rick,” says Thomas DeLong, a Harvard Business School professor who consults with C&S. “Many CEOs have a need to prove they’re the smartest guy in the room. Rick is not like that.”

You can read the entire profile here.

Bloomberg also has a story about Bob Piccinini, the 71-year-old majority owner of Save-Mart, a billionaire who "has expanded Save Mart by exploiting local zoning laws to thwart bigger competitors and acquiring hundreds of low-performing stores from adversaries." Described as a guy "with little patience for the details of merchandising" and "little interest in the day-to-day intricacies of retailing and reinvesting in his supermarkets," but with "a natural talent for numbers and finances."

You can read this profile here.
KC's View:
I think it is refreshing that in a world where guys like Donald Trump shine a spotlight on their own wealth (whether real or illusory) and celebrity, seemingly unable to differentiate between influence and notoriety, neither of these fellows wanted to talk to Bloomberg about this subject.