Ben E. Keith Foods Acquires Orrell’s Food Service in North Carolina

Ben E. Keith, a distributor of fine food and premium beverages located in Texas, United States, acquired Orrell’s Food Service, a food service distributor in North Carolina, United States, on June 1, 2023. Ben E. Keith is dedicated to growth and geographical diversification as it expands its reach by opening a new warehouse in Alabama and acquiring companies with food service warehousing capacity in Florida, Georgia, and now North Carolina.

Transaction Summary

The Facts of the Acquisition

Ben E. Keith is a distributor in the foodservice sector based in Texas, United States. Besides its head office and warehouse in Fort Worth, Texas, United States, it has other locations in Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arkansas, Alabama, and Florida. Collectively, Ben E. Keith services the U.S. southern region. The company has been looking to expand and has completed acquisitions of similar companies like Kelly Foods in Alabama and Florida Food Service, based in Florida.

Our Take on the Acquisition

The latest acquisition of Orrell’s Food Service, based in North Carolina, would see Ben E. Keith’s reach expand to South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia. This is due to the acquisition of Orrell’s Food Service warehouse in North Carolina and its transport fleet to service locations on the East Coast. The North Carolina location complements the existing operating locations of Ben E. Keith, which made it a sound strategic choice to acquire the company. The more populous East Coast of the United States provides for bigger volumes for Ben E. Keith’s existing clients in foodservice and beverages, and the new location will help enable them to reach new customers that Ben E. Keith couldn’t reach before this acquisition.

The Transaction

Date:June 1, 2023
Price:USD $6.35 million
Purpose: Growth through M&A, expansion into new territory by acquiring businesses in the same industry with different geographical reach, and potential synergies in business.
Acquirer’s Statement:Mike Sweet, president of Ben E. Keith Foods – “The acquisition of Orrell’s allows Ben E. Keith Foods to continue its expansion into North Carolina, serve new and existing customers, and provide additional opportunity for our employees and partners. We are excited to welcome all Orrell Food Service employees into our organization and continue a strong focus on customer service.”

Target/Seller: Orrell’s Food Service

Company Information

Target:Orrell’s Food Service
Industry: Food and Beverage – Meat Products
Type:Private, family-owned business
Employees:22 (Self-published on LinkedIn)
Locations:Corporate Office and Warehouse: 9827 S NC Hwy 150, Linwood, North Carolina, 27299, United States

Service Information 

Services:Distribution – Sourcing food items from producers and selling to businesses and retail customers
Logistics – Transportation of food items to retail and wholesale buyers
Warehousing – Storage and handling of food items. Packing to meet order size

Financial Information 

Revenue:USD $14.8 million (Unconfirmed Source:
Revenue per Employee:USD $672,727

Target/Seller Overview: Orrell’s Food Service

Orrell’s Food Service Inc. distributes food products. The company offers processed meats, canned and dry goods, frozen foods, fruits, vegetables, beverages, and other food products. Orrell’s Food Service was established as Orrell’s Cold Storage in 1954 by the brothers, Herman and Roy Orrell. The 800-square-foot facility offered custom butchering and processing of beef and pork. Within a couple of years, Herman purchased Roy’s interest in the business and in 1962 was joined by his son Tony, who is president and CEO of Orrell’s Food Service today.

The company was incorporated in 1979 and under NCDA (North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services) inspection began manufacturing and selling beef products. In 1981, Herman Orrell decided to retire after 27 years of dedicated service. After Herman’s retirement, Tony and Judy Orrell took over and began redefining the vision for the company. The new focus was to be on foodservice and the name of the company was changed to Orrell’s Food Service, Inc.

A new foodservice warehouse comprising 6,000 square feet was opened in December of 1984 next to the processing plant. In March 1987, Orrell’s became a Pocahontas Foods USA distributor and in May discontinued the service of custom butchering.

The existing trading partners of Orrell’s Food Service, based in North Carolina
Orrell’s Food Service provides food service distribution service within North Carolina.
Orrell’s Food Service food and cold warehouse unit in North Carolina

Buyer/Acquirer: Ben E. Keith Foods

Company Information

Buyer:Ben E. Keith Foods
Industry: Food and Beverage Distribution
Type:Private, family-owned business
Employees:6,000+ (Self-published on LinkedIn)
Locations:Corporate Office: 601 E 7th St, Fort Worth, Texas 76102, United States

Warehouse #1: 1 Ben E. Keith Way, North Little Rock, Arkansas 72177, United States

Warehouse #2: 1697 Lower Curtis Road, Elba, Alabama 36323, United States
Warehouse #3: 1 Ben E. Keith Way, New Brockton, Alabama 363521, United States

Warehouse #4: 5201 NE 40th Terrace, Gainesviolle, Florida 32609, United States

New Mexico
Warehouse #5: 601 Ben E. Keith Way, North West Albuquerque, New Mexico 87121, United States

Warehouse #6: 14200 North Santa Fe Avenue, Edmond, Oklahoma 73013, United States

Warehouse #7: 2300 North Lakeside Drive, Amarillo, Texas 79108, United States
Warehouse #8: 7650 Will Rogers Blvd, Fort Worth, Texas 76140, United States 
Warehouse #9: 2250 Lone Star Drive, Dallas, Texas 75212, United States
Warehouse #10: 1 Ben E. Keith Way, Missouri City, Texas 77489, United States
Warehouse #11: 17635 Ben E. Keith Way, Selma, Texas 78154, United States

Service Information 

Services:Stocks 18,000+ food and beverage SKUs
Distribution – Sourcing food items from producers and selling to businesses and retail customers.
Logistics – Transportation of food items to retail and wholesale buyers.
Warehousing – Storage and handling of food items. Packing to meet order size.

Value-added services for restaurants and hotels
Culinary Resource Team – Custom solutions, menu development, training, food costing, and inventory control
Design Solutions – Menu design and branding activities
Digital Marketing – Website design, reputation management, and social media marketing
Menu Profitability – Food cost analysis, inventory management
Merchandising and Promotional Supplies – Merchandise for conventions, restaurants, employee awards, incentive programs, and loyalty programs
POS Resources – Comprehensive end-to-end system with online ordering, loyalty programs, and reporting analytics
Purchasing and Inventory Management – Order tracking, invoice management and custom list creation
Restaurant Management – Sales reporting, invoice tracking, variance analysis, and business analytics
Servsafe Training – Food and alcohol safety training
Text Message Marketing – Targeting messaging strategy and customized contact database
Uniforms – Design and supply stock and custom uniforms

Financial Information 

Revenue:USD $5.1 billion (2022) (Source: Forbes)
Revenue per Employee:USD $850,000

Buyer/Acquirer Overview: Ben E. Keith Foods 

Ben E. Keith Foods distributes a wide variety of food service products. The company supplies a full line of produce, frozen foods, meats, dry groceries, refrigerated foods, paper goods, equipment, and supplies to restaurants, hospitals, schools, nursing homes, and other institutional businesses. 

For more than a century, Ben E. Keith has been a leader in fine food and premium beverage distribution, and it strives to provide excellent customer service to its partners. 

The food division is a complete broad-line distributor servicing 15 states, and its beverage division serves more than 62 Texas counties and is a distributor of Anheuser-Busch InBev products, craft and import beer brands, spirits, fine wine, and non-alcoholic beverages.

The company is dedicated to the growth and success of its customers, industry, partners, and employees – continuing its commitment to delivering quality since 1906.

Ben E. Keith opened a new 421,000-square-foot distribution center in Alabama in January 2022.
Ben E. Keith expands to New Mexico with the opening of a new 275,000-square-foot distribution center in Albuquerque.
Ben E. Keith expands to Arkansas with 348,000 square feet of floor space and 350 new employees to service customers in Arkansas, Missouri, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee.
Ben E. Keith operates 11 warehouses across the South United States and supplies dining restaurants, hotels, schools, healthcare facilities, and country clubs. It recently acquired Orrell’s Food Service in North Carolina to expand its reach to South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia.
Ben E. Keith has 18,000 unique products that it provides to clients.
Ben E. Keith has been providing foodservice warehousing and distribution services since its foundation in 1906. With 116 years in the foodservice industry, the company provides a full range of services to clients in the restaurant and hotel industries, as well as being a food service provider to business clients.

Previous Acquisitions

  • Florida Food Service (2022) – A foodservice distributor serving customers in Northern and Central Florida and Georgia, which started in 1948.
  • MenuMax (2016) – A receipt and menu management software company that provides innovative solutions for the food service industry based out of Texas.
  • Kelly Foods (2016) – Foodservice manufacturer and distributor in the South-East United States since it was founded in 1957.

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