instore - September 2017 - com - 2

Insight Insider

I'll let you know in a few years whether
it's successful."
That mentality extends also to Companion's grocery customer mix. The company's sweet spot is stores with 5 to 75
units - some too small to bake their
own breads in-house, others who "can't
get the attention" of other suppliers, Allen says. Focusing on customers that size
allows Companion to cultivate relationships they may not be able to have with
bigger clients, Allen says. It's those relationships, like the ones the company has
with St. Louis-based chains Dierbergs,
Schnucks and Straub's, that can help
guarantee business success.
"They all really wanted us to succeed in
St. Louis and as a result we've been successful. This is definitely a relationship
business and a trust business."

COMPANION MAKES ABOUT 300 FRESH-MARKET PRODUCTS PER DAY.
PHOTO: JOHN UNREIN

because the silo is made of fabric, it allows product to breathe.
Companion measures success by "the
three A's", Allen says: accessibility, affordability and approachability. Accessibility means distributing through as
many channels as possible. Affordability is understanding the local market and
selling product at a price that "makes
sense." And approachability is baking
breads that work well as one of many
components in a meal - a fairly simple
sourdough or whole grain, for instance,
rather than something complicated with
lots of bells and whistles.
"We're selling a lot in the middle of the
country. It's not L.A. or San Francisco
or New York. Bread is just bread, and
that's OK," Allen says.

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2 * SEPTEMBER 2017

*

Small-batch flexibility
Companion's growth has extended
its geographical reach to Florida,
Pennsylvania, Ohio, Montana, Wyoming
and other far-flung locales. The West,
Southwest and Northeast are the only
regions left largely untapped. But
despite the company's production and
reach, Allen still considers Companion
to be a small-batch operation, with
the flexibility and nimbleness larger
wholesale bakers don't have. For
instance, Companion typically turns
out 300 different fresh-market products
alone per day, and it's nimble enough
to do private-label programs for its
grocery customers.
"We embrace that nimbleness and try
our best to leverage it to be successful.

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commissary INSIDER

It's not just small and medium sized
chains that are a good fit for Companion,
which Allen considers to be in the "middle space" between small and big bakers
that supply instore grocery. Natural-food
and other smaller footprint stores are
also a good target market. "For them, it's
all about the fresh perimeter," Allen says.
"We sell more bread in a store like that
than we do in a major grocery store. Artisan bread is more a part of the basket
mix in that environment."
Fortunately, he says, the stores that
favor artisan bakers like Companion
also happen to be thriving, thanks to
the increasingly rapid evolution of the
retail grocery world. "Grocery is changing so dramatically. I can't even fathom
being a grocer, because they're getting
hit from all sides." The quality of food
at QuikTrip, for instance, has increased
dramatically, Allen points out. At the
same time, drugstores like Walgreen's
are selling huge amounts of milk and
eggs. And many big chains are "getting
hammered" by 20,000-square-foot natural food stores and 10,000 square foot
Trader Joe's, Allen says, because young-

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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of instore - September 2017

instore -- September 2017
Editor's Note - The best tacos in town
CONTENTS
SPOTLIGHT - By the numbers: Sandwiches
Specialty Insights - Consider: The new Gouda
Cover story - Hispanic flavor
Commissary Insider - September 2017
Insight Insider: Bringing artisan to scale
Product Category Spotlight: The donut evolution
Operations PHO alternatives come to forefront
News - Need to know
Retail evolution - Ecommerce rising
Software solutions - Menu manager
Merchandising - On display: Tailgating season
Product trends - First to market
Product showcase
instore - September 2017 - instore -- September 2017
instore - September 2017 - 2
instore - September 2017 - Editor's Note - The best tacos in town
instore - September 2017 - 4
instore - September 2017 - Editor's Note - The best tacos in town
instore - September 2017 - 4
instore - September 2017 - 5
instore - September 2017 - CONTENTS
instore - September 2017 - 7
instore - September 2017 - SPOTLIGHT - By the numbers: Sandwiches
instore - September 2017 - 9
instore - September 2017 - Specialty Insights - Consider: The new Gouda
instore - September 2017 - 11
instore - September 2017 - Cover story - Hispanic flavor
instore - September 2017 - 13
instore - September 2017 - 14
instore - September 2017 - 15
instore - September 2017 - 16
instore - September 2017 - 17
instore - September 2017 - 18
instore - September 2017 - Insight Insider: Bringing artisan to scale
instore - September 2017 - com - 2
instore - September 2017 - com - 3
instore - September 2017 - com - 4
instore - September 2017 - com - 5
instore - September 2017 - Product Category Spotlight: The donut evolution
instore - September 2017 - com - 7
instore - September 2017 - com - 8
instore - September 2017 - com - 9
instore - September 2017 - Operations PHO alternatives come to forefront
instore - September 2017 - com - 11
instore - September 2017 - com - 12
instore - September 2017 - com - 13
instore - September 2017 - com - 14
instore - September 2017 - com - 15
instore - September 2017 - com - 16
instore - September 2017 - News - Need to know
instore - September 2017 - Retail evolution - Ecommerce rising
instore - September 2017 - 21
instore - September 2017 - 22
instore - September 2017 - 23
instore - September 2017 - 24
instore - September 2017 - 25
instore - September 2017 - 26
instore - September 2017 - 27
instore - September 2017 - Software solutions - Menu manager
instore - September 2017 - 29
instore - September 2017 - Merchandising - On display: Tailgating season
instore - September 2017 - 31
instore - September 2017 - Product trends - First to market
instore - September 2017 - Product showcase
instore - September 2017 - 34
instore - September 2017 - 35
instore - September 2017 - 36
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