Norwich eyeing sale of U.S. Foods

Norwich - During the next several months, city leaders will be following closely Monday's news that the giant food distribution company Sysco will be buying U.S. Foods, one of its chief competitors.

U.S. Foods has a major distribution center at 222 Otrobando Ave. in Norwich, and officials there met with Norwich officials in October about a proposed expansion. The facility has expanded five times over the past several years.

U.S. Foods is the fifth-highest taxpayer in the city, with a total assessed property value of $12.3 million, city Assessor Donna Ralston said.

The latest proposed expansion would be to build a 25,000-square-foot addition on the north side of the main building, now about 176,000 square feet.

Former Mayor Peter Nystrom and Norwich Community Development Corp. President Robert Mills met with company officials in October to discuss a possible re-routing of Otrobando Avenue to accommodate the expansion.

The city once before relocated a portion of the road to accommodate an earlier expansion.

Mills and new Mayor Deberey Hinchey said it's too early to comment on how Monday's announcement that Sysco plans to purchase U.S. Foods would affect the Norwich facility.

Sysco has a distribution facility in Rocky Hill under the name Sysco Connecticut LLC that distributes food and related products to all of Connecticut, Westchester, N.Y., and western Massachusetts, according to the company's website.

News reports of the proposed sale said boards of directors of both companies have approved the sale, reportedly worth $3.5 billion in cash and stock. The companies expect the sale to be finalized in the third quarter of 2014.

"The more these big acquisitions go on, the more local contact becomes difficult," Mills said. "We always know who the local manager is, but it's often difficult to determine a corporate contact."

Mills suggested once the Sysco purchase is completed that city officials make a trip to the Houston corporate headquarters to put faces to names and express Norwich's interest in the company's future in the city.

"When you make a visit to the corporate office, you can find out more information and you can make a connection with somebody," Mills said. "We can communicate that we're here to help."


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