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October 22, 2022

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CHEF’STORE President Irfan Badibanga. Photo courtesy of CHEF’STORE

CHEF’STORE by US Foods, a wholesale club alternative with no membership required, expands its presence in the United States and now has 83 stores. On Saturday it opened its fourth location in South Carolina and on Wednesday it announced the opening of its second market in Utah in 2023. The Rosemont, Illinois-based foodservice distributor recently named Irfan Badibanga as president. Badibanga recently spoke with Winsight Grocery Business about the company’s rapid growth, omnichannel strategy, inflation, and introducing a new audience to CHEF’STORE.

Diane Adam: In your new role as President, part of your duties will be to grow CHEF’STORE stores as part of US Foods’ omnichannel strategy. Tell us a bit more about that and its mission for the future?

Irfan Badibanga: CHEF’STORE is poised for phenomenal growth across multiple geographies in the US, consistent with our omnichannel strategy focused on improving synergies for US Foods customers. This means we want to make sure that we offer our customers multiple channels to interact with US Foods. We know that some US Foods customers who are looking for replacement products between deliveries buy products from cash-and-carry stores, so we want to make sure that the quality products they expect from US Foods are available to them seven days a week. a local retail option. Additionally, our warehouse-style stores are open to the public to support our commitment to making it easier for non-US Foods customers, including restaurant owners, food industry professionals and home chefs, to stock up or quickly replenish ingredients and supplies at any time. they need it.

We are committed to delivering a customer value proposition centered around an unparalleled customer experience. An experience that emphasizes a well-organized and clean environment with a constantly stocked assortment of products in all major categories in a variety of sizes at wholesale prices. We strive to ensure that CHEF’STOREs integrate seamlessly into their local markets, food service industries and wider communities so that they are the go-to source for food and supplies. as we accelerate the growth of our footprint to serve more customers across the country.

CHEF’STORE shows no signs of stopping expansion, especially in South Carolina, where a new 33,000 square foot CHEF’STORE opened in September, joining three existing CHEF’STORE locations in Carolina from South. For the remainder of fiscal 2022 and into fiscal 2023, can you tell us about CHEF’STORE’s plan to expand its footprint and accelerate its growth in cash & carry market?

We opened three new CHEF’STORE stores in Visalia, CA, Lynchburg, VA and Spartanburg, SC, and three more stores are scheduled to open this year in Santa Cruz and Merced, CA, and Winston- Salem, North Carolina. As you mentioned, we also announced store openings in Helena, Montana and St. George, Utah next year, with plans to continue accelerating CHEF’STORE’s growth throughout 2023. We look forward to announcing additional locations when the weather is right.

Buyers are loyal to their beloved wholesale store, but CHEF’STORE is a warehouse that doesn’t require membership, and your bulk ingredients and food prices are on par with most other big name brands. warehouse. As a business that primarily caters to restaurant industry players, do you see more and more non-restaurant industry buyers coming through your doors?

We are certainly aiming to attract food service operators as well as industry professionals such as caterers and food truck operators, but we also count home chefs among our clients, especially those planning family gatherings. or community. We want to support anyone looking for diversity in product sizes to meet their needs at a price that works for them. CHEF’STORE is open to the public and no, we do not require membership. Although we are focused on meeting the needs of the foodservice operator, we strive to make the shopping experience inclusive for everyone.

CHEF’STORE is a cash-and-carry business, which exemplifies the power of your omnichannel strategy and allows generalist customers to meet needs between deliveries during the week to help meet demand. Do you see growth in the number of potential new customers discovering US Foods private label products as a purchasing option, especially as food prices remain high?

Yes, we appreciate the opportunity for non-US customers to experience our exclusive branded offerings. As part of US Foods Great Food. Made easy. strategy, offering innovative and on-trend products that offer cost and labor savings, and versatility, is key to our differentiated value proposition and certainly translates into other areas of space and the culinary industry. Ultimately, operators large and small are looking for the best products to meet the demands of their customers and their operations. We want to make it very easy for them to get these products conveniently and at a competitive price.

In these times of inflation, wallet spending weighs heavily on the buyer’s mind. In which direction do you see food prices and do you see a favorable wind in the near future for the consumer?

Feed costs and labor costs continue to be a priority for operators and we certainly strive to provide customers with an expanded selection of pre-made products to help reduce internal costs and provide high profitability. from the menu. That said, as a warehouse-style store, we also aim to offer competitive prices and a variety of products at different price points to provide more choices for customers. I know not to speculate on the future of food costs, but what I do know is that at CHEF’STORE we will ensure that our customers have a wide variety of products to choose from, at very competitive prices.

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