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Viking Buys Major Majap Distributor

GREENWOOD, MISS. – Viking Range has acquired Hadco, its largest independent distributor.

Viking has been buying up its distribution network for the past year and taking it in-house under a strategy formulated by The Middleby Corp., a manufacturer of commercial kitchen appliances that acquired Viking one year ago.

Hadco, in business for more than half a century, supplies in excess of 500 dealers in 21 Southeast, Mid- Atlantic and New England states with such premium brands as Asko, Electrolux, Faber, LG, Perlick, U-Line and Zephyr.

It is unclear whether those vendors will maintain their two-step relationships with Hadco under Viking ownership.

Viking said it is combining Hadco with its Viking Midwest and Viking South Central distribution companies to form Viking Distribution East, and that the former Hadco management team, led by president/CEO David Haun, will remain in place.

“We are pleased to be a key part of this consolidation of distribution,” Haun said in a statement. “There are many opportunities to leverage our strengths in sales, service and parts in ways that will support our customers and other partners.”

Viking Distributing East will assume Hadco’s headquarters in Suwanee, Ga., as well as its showrooms and service centers in Atlanta; Winter Park, Fla.; Dulles, Va.; and Wallingford, Conn.

Viking began moving to factory-direct distribution last spring, and has since dismantled its independent distributor networks in the Southwest, West Coast, Northwest and Midwest. The strategy was struck by parent company Middleby, a manufacturer of commercial foodservice equipment, which acquired Viking in December 2012 for $380 million and later acquired four of its distributors for $15 million.

While “sharpening its focus” is the company’s oftrepeated explanation for the new two-step strategy, retail analyst David Strasser of Janney Montgomery Scott has suggested that another goal may be to bring Viking to national big-box chains, which was precluded by its franchise distribution network. If true, Viking would follow the path of other once limited-distribution luxury brands like Bosch and Dacor into mass channel retailers like Best Buy, h.h.gregg and possibly Lowe’s and The Home Depot.