Central was incorporated as Central Wholesale Grocers, Inc. on September 5, 1917 in the State of Illinois, and is a cooperative. There were 32 initial shareholders, supermarket owners, who came together to form a company to aggregate their purchase volume, to get lower cost of goods. The total capital contribution to start the company was $25,000.
At the time Central was formed, its objective on the incorporation papers filed in 1917 was "to buy, sell, trade, exchange and manufacture groceries, grocery sundries and specialties, or anything appertaining thereto, not including any of those things excepted in Section 1 of the General Corporation Laws of this State."
Today Central supplies over 400 stores in the Chicagoland area with groceries, produce, fresh meat, service deli items, frozen foods, ice cream and exclusively the Centrella Brand distributor. Sales have grown to $2.0 billion per year over the past 94 years. Capital has grown from the initial investment of $25,000 to $115 million today due to the commitment of the independent supermarket retailers to support their own company.
Over the past 11 years Central has returned in the form of dividends to its members approximately $243 million. This is because the members of Central, are owners of the company. These dividends are an additional benefit of the retailer being a member of Central in addition to paying the lowest cost for their product in the marketplace day in and day out.
These dividends are used to lower costs, which in turn reduce selling prices to the consumer. Dividends also allow our retailers to reinvest in the local community served by the store, and to remodel or expand their store.