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EX-32.2 - EXHIBIT 32.2 - Chefs' Warehouse, Inc.chef-12302016xex32x2.htm
EX-32.1 - EXHIBIT 32.1 - Chefs' Warehouse, Inc.chef-12302016xex32x1.htm
EX-31.2 - EXHIBIT 31.2 - Chefs' Warehouse, Inc.chef-12302016xex31x2.htm
EX-31.1 - EXHIBIT 31.1 - Chefs' Warehouse, Inc.chef-12302016xex31x1.htm
EX-23.1 - EXHIBIT 23.1 - Chefs' Warehouse, Inc.consentofindependentregist.htm
EX-21 - EXHIBIT 21 - Chefs' Warehouse, Inc.subsidiariesofthecompany.htm
EX-10.27(B) - EXHIBIT 10.27(B) - Chefs' Warehouse, Inc.chefs-ex1027bxformofperfor.htm
EX-10.24(B) - EXHIBIT 10.24(B) - Chefs' Warehouse, Inc.chefs-ex1024bxformofrsaagr.htm
EX-10.49 - EXHIBIT 10.49 - Chefs' Warehouse, Inc.amendmentno8tonotepurchase.htm
EX-10.48 - EXHIBIT 10.48 - Chefs' Warehouse, Inc.amendmentno7tonotepurchase.htm
EX-10.39 - EXHIBIT 10.39 - Chefs' Warehouse, Inc.cw-amendmentno9toamendedan.htm
EX-10.38 - EXHIBIT 10.38 - Chefs' Warehouse, Inc.cw-amendmentno8toamendedan.htm
EX-10.25 - EXHIBIT 10.25 - Chefs' Warehouse, Inc.formofrestrictedshareaward.htm
EX-10.21 - EXHIBIT 10.21 - Chefs' Warehouse, Inc.formofnon-qualifiedstockop.htm


 
 
 
 
 
UNITED STATES
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20549
FORM 10-K
☒       ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE
SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
 
For the fiscal year ended December 30, 2016
 
OR
 
☐       TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE
SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
 
For the transition period from ____________ to ____________
 
Commission file number: 001-35249
 
THE CHEFS’ WAREHOUSE, INC.
 
(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)
Delaware
 
20-3031526
(State or other jurisdiction of
 
(I.R.S. Employer
incorporation or organization)
 
Identification No.)
 
 
 
100 East Ridge Road
Ridgefield, Connecticut
 
06877
(Address of principal executive offices)
 
(Zip Code)
 
 
 
Registrant’s telephone number, including area code: (203) 894-1345
 
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
 
Title of each class
 
Name of each exchange on which registered
Common Stock, $.01 par value per share
 
The Nasdaq Stock Market LLC (Nasdaq Global Select Market)
 
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: None
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act. Yes ☐  No ☒
 
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Exchange Act. Yes ☐  No ☒
 
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days. Yes ☒  No ☐
 
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically and posted on its corporate Web site, if any, every Interactive Data File required to be submitted and posted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit and post such files). Yes ☒  No ☐
 
Indicate by check mark if disclosure of delinquent filers pursuant to Item 405 of Regulation S-K is not contained herein, and will not be contained, to the best of registrant’s knowledge, in definitive proxy or information statements incorporated by reference in Part III of this Form 10-K or any amendment to this Form 10-K. ☐
 
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer or a smaller reporting company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer” and “smaller reporting company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act. 
Large accelerated filer ☐
 
Accelerated filer ☒
 
 
 
Non-accelerated filer ☐ (Do not check if a smaller reporting company)
 
Smaller reporting company ☐
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act). Yes ☐  No ☒
 
The aggregate market value of the registrant’s common stock held by non-affiliates computed by reference to the price at which the common equity was last sold as of the last business day of the registrant’s most recently completed second quarter (June 24, 2016): $316,397,827
 
Indicate the number of shares outstanding of each of the registrant’s classes of common stock, as of the latest practicable date.
Class
 
Outstanding at March 9, 2017
Common Stock, $.01 par value per share
 
26,277,049 shares
 
DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE 
Document
 
Parts Into Which Incorporated
Proxy Statement for the Annual Meeting of Stockholders
expected to be held on May 19, 2017 (Proxy Statement)
 
Part III
 
 
 
 
 

1



THE CHEFS’ WAREHOUSE, INC.

INDEX

 
 
Description
 
Page
Number
 
 
 
 
 
Part I
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

2



CAUTIONARY STATEMENT REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS
 
This Annual Report on Form 10-K of The Chefs’ Warehouse, Inc. contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. Forward-looking statements provide our current expectations or forecasts of future events and are not statements of historical fact. These forward-looking statements include information about possible or assumed future events, including, among other things, discussion and analysis of our future financial condition, results of operations, our strategic plans and objectives, cost management, liquidity and ability to refinance our indebtedness as it matures, anticipated capital expenditures (and access to capital) required to complete projects, amounts of cash distributions to our stockholders in the future, if any, and other matters. Words such as “anticipates,” “expects,” “intends,” “plans,” “believes,” “seeks,” “estimates” and variations of these words and similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements. These statements are not guarantees of future performance and are subject to risks, uncertainties and other factors, some of which are beyond our control, are difficult to predict and/or could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed or forecasted in the forward-looking statements.
 
Forward-looking statements involve inherent uncertainty and may ultimately prove to be incorrect or false. Investors in our common stock are cautioned not to place undue reliance on forward-looking statements. Except as otherwise may be required by law, we undertake no obligation to update or revise forward-looking statements to reflect changed assumptions, the occurrence of unanticipated events or actual operating results. Our actual results could differ materially from those anticipated in these forward-looking statements as a result of various factors, including, but not limited to, the following:
 
our success depends to a significant extent upon general economic conditions, including disposable income levels and changes in consumer discretionary spending;
a significant portion of our future growth is dependent upon our ability to expand our operations in our existing markets and to penetrate new markets through acquisitions;
we may not achieve the benefits expected from our acquisitions, including our recent acquisition of M.T. Food Service, Inc. ("MT Food"), which could adversely impact our business and operating results;
we may have difficulty managing and facilitating our future growth;
conditions beyond our control could materially affect the cost and/or availability of our specialty food products or center-of-the-plate products and/or interrupt our distribution network;
our increased distribution of center-of-the-plate products, like meat, poultry and seafood, following our acquisitions of Michael’s Finer Meats, LLC (“Michael’s”), Allen Brothers, Inc. (“Allen Brothers”) and Del Monte Capital Meat Co. and related entities (“Del Monte”), involves risks that we have not historically faced;
our business is a low-margin business and our profit margins may be sensitive to inflationary and deflationary pressures;
group purchasing organizations may become more active in our industry and increase their efforts to add our customers as members of these organizations;
because our foodservice distribution operations are concentrated in certain culinary markets, we are susceptible to economic and other developments, including adverse weather conditions, in these areas;
damage to our reputation or lack of acceptance of our specialty food products, center-of-the-plate products and/or the brands we carry in existing and new markets could materially and adversely impact our business, financial condition or results of operations;
our customers are generally not obligated to continue purchasing products from us;
we have experienced losses due to our inability to collect accounts receivable in the past and could experience increases in such losses in the future if our customers are unable to pay their debts to us in a timely manner or at all;
product liability claims could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations;
Fuel cost volatility may have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations;
new information or attitudes regarding diet and health or adverse opinions about the health effects of the products we distribute could result in changes in consumer eating habits, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations;
we have significant competition from a variety of sources, and we may not be able to compete successfully;
our substantial indebtedness may limit our ability to invest in the ongoing needs of our business;
our ability to raise capital in the future may be limited;
we may be unable to obtain debt or other financing, including financing necessary to execute on our acquisition strategy, on favorable terms or at all;
information technology system failures or breaches of our network security could interrupt our operations and adversely affect our business;
our investments in information technology may not produce the benefits that we anticipate;

3



we may not be able to adequately protect our intellectual property, which, in turn, could harm the value of our brands and adversely affect our business;
our business operations and future development could be significantly disrupted if we lose key members of our management team;
our insurance policies may not provide adequate levels of coverage against all claims, and fluctuating insurance requirements and costs could negatively impact our profitability. In addition, if we fail to establish proper reserves and adequately estimate future expenses, the costs associated with our self-insured group medical, workers’ compensation liability and auto liability plans may adversely affect our business, financial condition or results of operations;
increases in our labor costs, including as a result of labor shortages, the unionization of some of our associates, the price or unavailability of insurance and changes in government regulation, could slow our growth or harm our business;
we are subject to significant governmental regulation and failure to comply could subject us to enforcement actions, recalls or other penalties, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations;
federal, state, provincial and local tax rules in the United States and Canada may adversely impact our business, financial condition or results of operations;
the price of our common stock may be volatile and our stockholders could lose all or a part of their investment;
concentration of ownership among our existing executive officers, directors and their affiliates may prevent new investors from influencing significant corporate decisions;
if securities analysts or industry analysts downgrade our stock, publish negative research or reports or do not publish reports about our business, our stock price and trading volume could decline;
we do not intend to pay dividends for the foreseeable future and our stock may not appreciate in value;
our issuance of preferred stock or debt securities could adversely affect holders of our common stock and discourage a takeover; and
some provisions of our charter documents and Delaware law may have anti-takeover effects that could discourage an acquisition of us by others, even if an acquisition would be beneficial to our stockholders, and may prevent attempts by our stockholders to replace or remove our current management.

This list of risks and uncertainties, however, is only a summary of some of the most important factors and is not intended to be exhaustive. Investors in our common stock should carefully review the risks that are set forth under the caption “Risk Factors” included in Part I, Item 1A of this Form 10-K.

Unless this Form 10-K indicates otherwise or the context otherwise requires, the terms “The Chefs’ Warehouse,” “we,” “our,” “our Company,” “the Company” or “us” as used in this Form 10-K refer to The Chefs’ Warehouse, Inc. and its subsidiaries.

4



Item 1.     BUSINESS

We are a premier distributor of specialty food products in the United States and Canada. We are focused on serving the specific needs of chefs who own and/or operate some of the leading menu-driven independent restaurants, fine dining establishments, country clubs, hotels, caterers, culinary schools, bakeries, patisseries, chocolatiers, cruise lines, casinos and specialty food stores in the United States and Canada. We believe that we have a distinct competitive advantage in serving these customers as a result of our extensive selection of distinctive and hard-to-find specialty and center-of-the-plate food products, our product knowledge and our customer service.

We define specialty food products as gourmet foods and ingredients that are of the highest grade, quality or style as measured by their uniqueness, exotic origin or particular processing method. Our product portfolio includes over 43,000 stock-keeping units (“SKUs”) from more than 1,800 different suppliers and is comprised primarily of imported and domestic specialty food products, such as artisan charcuterie, specialty cheeses, unique oils and vinegars, truffles, caviar, chocolate and pastry products. We also offer an extensive line of center-of-the-plate products, including custom cut beef, seafood and hormone-free poultry, as well as broadline food products, such as cooking oils, butter, eggs, milk and flour. When marketing our products to our customers, we focus our efforts on chefs, and we believe that, by offering a wide selection of both distinctive and hard-to-find products, together with center-of-the-plate proteins and staple broadline food products, we are able to differentiate ourselves from larger, traditional broadline foodservice distributors, while simultaneously enabling our customers to utilize us as their primary foodservice distributor. Additionally, as a result of our acquisition of Allen Brothers in December 2013, we market certain of our center-of-the-plate products directly to consumers through a mail and e-commerce platform.

Since the formation of our predecessor in 1985, we have expanded our distribution network, product selection and customer base both organically and through acquisitions. From December 30, 2011 to December 30, 2016, our net revenues increased from approximately $401 million to approximately $1,193 million. During these periods and in prior years, our sales to both new and existing customers have increased as a result of an increase in the breadth and depth of our product portfolio, our commitment to customer service, the efforts of our experienced and sophisticated sales professionals, the increased use of technology in the operations and management of our business and our ongoing consolidation of the fragmented specialty foodservice distribution industry. Since April 2012, we have completed eight acquisitions which have increased our penetration in existing markets, expanded our footprint into new markets and/or enhanced our product capabilities. The up-front cash purchase prices for these eight acquisitions ranged from $2.1 million to $123.9 million, resulting in aggregate up-front cash consideration of more than $296.0 million, which we funded with borrowings under our then existing senior secured credit facilities, a portion of which we repaid with proceeds from the issuance of $125.0 million of senior secured notes in April 2013 and April 2015, and the proceeds of our common stock offering completed in September 2013.

Excluding our direct-to-consumer business, we currently serve more than 28,000 customer locations in our fifteen primary geographic markets across the United States and Canada, including New York, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Miami, Portland, Seattle, Columbus, Cincinnati, Chicago, Sacramento, Vancouver, Edmonton and Toronto. By leveraging an experienced and sophisticated sales force of approximately 450 sales and customer service professionals, we maintain collaborative relationships with thousands of chefs while also acting as a critical marketing arm and route-to-market for many of our suppliers. We operate 24 distribution centers and provide service six days a week in many of our service areas, utilizing our fleet of delivery trucks to fill our customers’ orders.

Competitive Strengths

We believe that, during our over 30-year history, we have achieved, developed and/or refined the following strengths which provide us with a distinct competitive position in the foodservice distribution industry and also the opportunity to achieve superior margins relative to most large broadline foodservice distributors:

Leading Distributor of Specialty Food Products in Many of the Key Culinary Markets. Based on our management’s industry knowledge and experience, we believe we are the largest distributor of specialty food products, as measured by net sales, in the New York, Washington, D.C., San Francisco and Los Angeles metropolitan markets. We believe these markets, along with a number of other markets we serve, including Las Vegas, Miami, Philadelphia, Boston, Napa Valley, Portland, Seattle, Chicago, Cincinnati, Vancouver and Toronto, create and set the culinary trends for the rest of the United States and Canada and provide us with valuable insight into the latest culinary and menu practices. Furthermore, we believe our established relationships with many of the top chefs, culinary schools and dining establishments in these key culinary markets have benefited us when we entered into new markets where we believe that chefs at our potential customers were generally knowledgeable of our brand and commitment to quality and excellence from their experience working in other markets which we serve or through their personal relationships throughout the culinary industry.


5



Expansive Product Offering. We offer an extensive portfolio of high-quality specialty food products, ranging from basic ingredients and staples, such as milk and flour, to custom cut steaks and seafood and pastries, as well as delicacies and specialty ingredients sourced from North America, Europe, Asia and South America, which we believe helps our customers distinguish their menu items. We carry more than 43,000 SKUs and we constantly evaluate our portfolio and introduce new products to address regional trends and preferences and ensure that we are on the leading edge of broader culinary trends. Through our importing division, we provide our customers with access to a portfolio of exclusive items, including regional olive oils, truffles and charcuterie from Italy, Spain, France and other Mediterranean countries. In addition, and as evidence of our commitment to aid our customers in creating unique and innovative menu items, we regularly utilize our sourcing relationships and industry insights to procure additional products that we do not regularly carry but that our customers specifically request. We believe that the breadth and depth of our product portfolio facilitates our customers’ ability to distinguish and enhance their menu offerings and differentiates us from larger traditional broadline foodservice distributors. For example, we provide a selection of more than 200 different varieties of olive oil, while large broadline foodservice distributors only carry, on average, 5-10 types of olive oil.

Critical Route-to-Market for Specialty Food Suppliers. We currently distribute products from more than 1,800 different suppliers. Our suppliers are located throughout North America, Europe, Asia and South America and include numerous small, family-owned entities and artisanal food producers. We are the largest customer for many of our suppliers. As a result, our experienced and sophisticated sales professionals, customer relationships and distribution platform are important to these suppliers’ route-to-market, which enables us to offer a wide range of products on an exclusive basis.

Expanding Base of Premier Customer Relationships. Our breadth and depth of product offerings coupled with our highly regarded customer service has allowed us to develop and retain a loyal customer base that is comprised of chefs who own or work at more than 28,000 of the nation’s leading menu-driven independent restaurants, fine dining establishments, country clubs, hotels, caterers, culinary schools, bakeries, patisseries, chocolatiers, cruise lines, casinos and specialty food stores. Our focus on product selection, product knowledge and customer service has rewarded us with a number of long-term customer relationships, which often begin when chefs are introduced to us while attending the nation’s leading culinary schools, including The Culinary Institute of America and The French Culinary Institute, both of which have been customers of ours for more than eight years. Based on our management’s industry experience and our relationships and dealings with our customers, we believe we are the primary distributor of specialty food products to the majority of our customers that are not part of our direct-to-consumer center-of-the-plate business.

Collaborative Professional and Educational Relationships with our Customers. We employ a sophisticated and experienced sales force of approximately 450 sales and customer service professionals, a significant number of whom have formal culinary training, degrees in the culinary arts or prior experience working in the culinary industry. Equipped with advanced culinary and industry knowledge, our sales professionals seek to establish a rapport with our customers’ chefs, so that they can more fully understand and anticipate the needs of and offer cost-effective food product solutions to the chefs who own or operate these businesses. We believe that the specialized knowledge base of our sales professionals enables us to take a more collaborative and educational approach to selling our gourmet foods and ingredients and to further differentiate ourselves from our traditional broadline competitors.

Expertise in Logistics and Distribution. We have built a first-class, scalable inventory management and logistics platform that enables us to efficiently fill our customers’ orders and to profitably meet our customers’ needs for varying drop sizes, high service levels and timely delivery. Our average distribution service level, or the percentage of in-stock items ordered by customers that are not part of our direct-to-consumer center-of-the-plate business that were delivered by the requested date, was in excess of 97% in 2016, which we believe is among the highest rates in the foodservice distribution industry. With 24 distribution centers located throughout the United States and Canada, we are able to leverage our geographic footprint and reduce our inbound freight costs. This scale enables us to maintain a portfolio of more than 43,000 SKUs, and through the operation of our sophisticated information technology, inventory management and logistics systems, we believe we provide our customers with some of the highest levels of customer service and responsiveness in our industry.

Experienced and Proven Management Team. Our senior management team has demonstrated the ability to grow the business through various economic environments. With collective experience of more than 90 years at The Chefs’ Warehouse, its predecessor and other foodservice distribution companies, our founders and senior management are experienced operators and are passionate about our future. Our senior management team is comprised of our founders, as well as experienced professionals with expertise in the foodservice distribution industry and in a wide range of functional areas, including finance and accounting, sales and marketing, operations, information technology, legal and human resources.




6



Our Growth Strategies

We believe substantial organic growth opportunities exist in our current markets through increased penetration of our existing customers and the addition of new customers, and we have identified new markets that we believe also present opportunities for future expansion. Key elements of our growth strategy include the following:

Increase Penetration with Existing Customers. We intend to sell more products to our existing customers by increasing the breadth and depth of our product selection and increasing the efficiency of our sales professionals, while at the same time continuing to provide excellent customer service. We are a data-driven and goal-oriented organization, and our management and sales professionals are highly focused on our weekly sales and gross profit contribution from each of our non-direct-to-consumer customers and increasing the number of unique products we distribute to such customers. We believe our acquisition activity since our initial public offering reflects this focus, as we have sought to complement our existing product offerings and enhance our product capabilities through our June 2016 acquisition of MT Food, a wholesale distributor of dairy, produce, specialty and grocer items, our April 2015 acquisition of Del Monte, a supplier of high quality, USDA inspected beef, pork, lamb, veal, poultry and seafood products, our October 2014 acquisition of Euro Gourmet Inc. (“Euro Gourmet”), a wholesale specialty distributor of imported and domestic products, our December 2013 acquisition of Allen Brothers, a leading processor and distributor of premium quality meats, our May 2013 acquisition of Qzina Specialty Foods North America Inc. (“Qzina”), a leading supplier of gourmet chocolate, dessert and pastry products, and our August 2012 acquisition of Michael’s, a specialty protein distributor which specializes in custom cut beef, seafood and other center-of-the-plate products.

Expand our Customer Base Within our Existing Markets. As of December 30, 2016, we served more than 28,000 customer locations, excluding our direct-to-consumer business, in the United States and Canada. We plan to expand our market share in the fragmented specialty food distribution industry by cultivating new customer relationships within our existing markets through the continued penetration of menu-driven independent restaurants, fine dining establishments, country clubs, hotels, caterers, culinary schools, bakeries, patisseries, chocolatiers, cruise lines, casinos and specialty food stores. We believe we have the opportunity to continue to gain market share in our existing markets by offering an extensive selection of specialty food products, as well as center-of-the-plate proteins and traditional broadline staple food products through our unique, collaborative and educational sales efforts and efficient, scalable distribution solution.

Improve our Operating Margins. As we continue to grow, we believe that the investments we are making in our facilities and information technology platforms, along with improved efficiencies that we are working to achieve in our general and administrative functions, should yield both improved customer service and profitability. Utilizing our fleet of delivery trucks, we usually fill customer orders within 12-24 hours of order placement. We intend to continue to offer our customers this high level of customer service, while maintaining our focus on realizing efficiencies and economies of scale in purchasing, warehousing, distribution and general and administrative functions which, when combined with incremental fixed-cost leverage, we believe will lead to continued improvements in our operating margin over time.

Pursue Selective Acquisitions. Throughout our over 30-year history, we have successfully identified, consummated and integrated multiple strategic acquisitions, which were designed to increase our penetration in existing markets, expand our footprint into new markets and/or enhance our product capabilities. We believe that, over time, we will be able to improve the operations and overall profitability of each acquired company by leveraging our sourcing relationships to provide an expanded product portfolio, implementing our tested sales force training techniques and metrics and installing improved warehouse management and information systems. We believe we have the opportunity to capitalize on our existing infrastructure and expertise by continuing to selectively pursue opportunistic acquisitions in order to expand the breadth of our distribution network, increase our operating efficiency and add additional products and capabilities. Since our initial public offering (“IPO”), we have completed nine acquisitions which have increased our penetration in existing markets, expanded our footprint into new markets and enhanced our product capabilities. During fiscal 2014 we implemented an “integration team” that is dedicated to onboarding new acquisitions and integrating information technology systems as quickly and efficiently as possible. We expect the integration team to help streamline the acquisition process and anticipate that it will enable us to achieve expected benefits and synergies more quickly. Having a team dedicated to integration will help us make sure the people, processes and products we add through acquisitions are consistent with the rest of our business and will allow our management team to focus its attention on our day-to-day operations.

Our Markets and the Customers that We Serve

Excluding our direct-to-consumer business, we distribute our specialty food products to over 28,000 distinct customer locations from distribution centers located in our primary markets, which include New York, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Miami, Portland, Seattle, Columbus, Cincinnati, Chicago, Vancouver, Edmonton and Toronto. We also serve customers in a number of other markets, including Philadelphia, Boston and Napa Valley. We believe that many of these

7



markets set the culinary trends for the rest of the United States and Canada and provide us with valuable insight into the latest culinary and menu trends. We have established collaborative professional and educational relationships with some of the United States’ and Canada’s most demanding chefs, which allows us to anticipate the needs of, and offer cost-effective food product solutions to, our customers while allowing our customers to locate ingredients that will enable them to create unique and differentiated menu items. Our target customers include menu-driven independent restaurants, fine dining establishments, country clubs, hotels, caterers, culinary schools, bakeries, patisseries, chocolatiers, cruise lines, casinos and specialty food stores. We have no meaningful customer concentration as our top ten customers accounted for less than 7.4% of total net sales for our 2016 fiscal year.

Additionally, as a result of our acquisition of Allen Brothers in December 2013, we have also begun to market certain of our center-of-the-plate proteins directly to consumers through a mail and e-commerce platform.

Set forth below is a breakdown of the primary geographic markets we serve and the year we entered each market:

MARKET NAME
 
GEOGRAPHIES SERVED
 
YEAR ENTERED
New York
 
Boston to Atlantic City
 
1985
Washington, D.C.
 
Philadelphia to Richmond
 
1999
Los Angeles
 
Santa Barbara to San Diego
 
2005
San Francisco
 
Napa Valley to Monterey Bay
 
2005
Las Vegas
 
Las Vegas
 
2005
Miami
 
Miami
 
2010
Portland
 
Bend, OR to Seattle, WA
 
2011
Columbus
 
Midwest
 
2012
Cincinnati
 
Dayton, OH to Lexington, KY
 
2013
Chicago
 
Chicago
 
2013
Vancouver
 
Vancouver and Western Canada
 
2013
Edmonton
 
Edmonton and Calgary
 
2013
Toronto
 
Toronto
 
2013
Seattle
 
Seattle
 
2013
Sacramento
 
Sacramento
 
2015

We extend credit to virtually all of our non-direct-to-consumer customers on varying terms. Most of our customers have payment terms from 20-60 days. We complete a formal credit assessment of all significant new non-direct-to-consumer customers, and our Credit and Collections Department regularly evaluates credit terms for each such customer based upon several factors, including order frequency, average order size, the types of products purchased and the length of the relationship. We believe that we are skilled at managing customer credit.

Our Gourmet Food Products

We strive to be the primary food source solution for our customers, and, to this end, we offer our customers a comprehensive product portfolio that ranges from basic ingredients and staples, such as milk and flour, to custom-cut steaks and seafood and pastries, as well as delicacies and specialty ingredients sourced from North America, Europe, Asia and South America. We carry more than 43,000 SKUs and we are fully committed to utilizing our sourcing relationships and industry insights to procure products that we do not regularly carry but that our customers specifically request as they seek to create unique and innovative menu items.










8



The sales mix for the principal product categories for each of the 2016, 2015 and 2014 fiscal years is as follows (dollars in thousands):

 
 
December 30, 2016
 
December 25, 2015
 
December 26, 2014
Center of Plate
 
$
575,502

 
48
%
 
$
485,260

 
46
%
 
$
311,336

 
37
%
Dry Goods
 
202,273

 
17
%
 
186,119

 
18
%
 
169,933

 
20
%
Pastries and other Bakery Products
 
162,097

 
14
%
 
143,806

 
14
%
 
140,865

 
17
%
Cheeses
 
95,090

 
8
%
 
88,589

 
8
%
 
83,065

 
10
%
Dairy Products
 
73,517

 
6
%
 
67,530

 
6
%
 
58,148

 
7
%
Oils and Vinegars
 
64,589

 
5
%
 
58,245

 
6
%
 
56,859

 
7
%
Kitchen Supplies
 
19,798

 
2
%
 
17,329

 
2
%
 
12,503

 
2
%
Total
 
$
1,192,866

 
100
%
 
$
1,046,878

 
100
%
 
$
832,709

 
100
%

We continuously evaluate potential additions to our product portfolio based on both existing and anticipated trends in the culinary industry. Our buyers have numerous contacts with suppliers throughout North America, Europe, Asia and South America and are always looking for new and interesting products that will aid our customers as they seek to keep up with the latest developments in the culinary industry. Our ability to successfully distribute a significant portion of the total production of smaller, regional and artisanal specialty food producers allows us the opportunity to be these producers’ primary route-to-market in our markets without, in most cases, requiring us to make contractual commitments regarding guaranteed volume. We are also able to utilize our size and successful track record of distributing products sourced from outside the United States and Canada to resist efforts from many of our foreign suppliers to push importing costs off onto us.

We seek to differentiate ourselves from our competitors by offering a more extensive depth and breadth of specialty products. We carry a wide range of high-quality specialty food products, including artisan charcuterie, specialty cheeses, unique oils and vinegars, truffles, caviar, chocolate and pastry products across each of our markets, but we also offer a number of items in each of our respective markets that are tailored to meet the unique preferences of the individual chefs in that market. We regularly rotate our inventory to identify and bring to market new products that will continue to support our value proposition.

Within our product offerings, we carry numerous gourmet brands, and at the same time, we seek to maximize product contribution through the sale of our proprietary brands, which we offer in a number of staple products, including bulk olive oil, Italian grating cheeses and butter. We believe that our ability to offer simultaneously high-quality specialty foods and ingredients, center-of-the-plate products and more traditional broadline staple food products provides our customers with foodservice distribution solutions that are efficient and cost effective.

Our Sophisticated and Experienced Sales Professionals

We employ a sophisticated and experienced sales force of approximately 450 sales and customer service professionals focused on meeting our customers’ goals and objectives, while concurrently educating them regarding our latest products and broader culinary trends. To ensure a high level of customer service, we seek to maintain a ratio of approximately one sales professional for every 62 of our customers, excluding our direct-to-consumer customers. Our sales force is composed of the following three distinct groups which are all focused on providing outstanding service to our customers:

Outside Sales Associates: Responsible for identifying sales opportunities, educating customers and acting as our public representatives.
Inside Sales Associates: Responsible for processing customer orders and arranging for delivery and payment.
Product Specialists: Responsible for maintaining specialized product knowledge and educating our outside sales associates and customers regarding new products and general developments in several specific categories, including protein, seafood, pastry and cheese.

A significant number of our sales professionals have formal culinary training, degrees in the culinary arts and/or prior experience working in the culinary industry. We strive to harness this culinary knowledge and passion for food and to concurrently promote an entrepreneurial working environment. Utilizing advanced pricing optimization software available to them on a real-time basis, our sales professionals are afforded flexibility to determine the pricing of individual items for our customers within a range of pricing options. The majority of our outside sales professionals are compensated on a commission

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basis, and their performance is measured primarily upon their gross profit dollars obtained. We have historically experienced low turnover among our seasoned sales professionals.

Because we are highly focused on collaborating with our customers and educating them regarding our latest products and broader culinary trends, we view the ongoing education and training of our sales force as crucial to our continued success. To ensure that our sales professionals remain on the forefront of new culinary products and trends, we regularly hold “vendor shows” at our distribution centers, where our sales force is able to interact with vendors and learn more about the vendors’ latest product offerings and the performance of these products relative to competitive offerings.

Our Suppliers

We are committed to providing our customers with an unrivaled portfolio of specialty food products, as well as a comprehensive broadline product offering and center-of-the-plate products. To fulfill this commitment, we maintain strong sourcing relationships with numerous producers of high-quality artisan and regional specialty food products, as well as a wide range of broadline product suppliers and protein vendors. Our importing arm also provides us with access to exclusive items such as regional olive oils, truffles and charcuterie sourced from Italy, Spain, France and other Mediterranean countries.

We constantly seek out and evaluate new products in order to satisfy our customers’ desire to be at the forefront of the latest culinary and menu trends, and, as evidence of our commitment to aid our customers in creating unique and innovative menu items, we regularly utilize our sourcing relationships and industry insights to procure other products that we do not regularly carry but that our customers specifically request.

We currently distribute products from more than 1,800 different suppliers. We carry multiple products and utilize multiple suppliers in all of our product categories, thereby eliminating our dependence upon any single supplier. Additionally, we seek to limit commodity risk by utilizing sophisticated forecasting and inventory management systems to minimize the inventory carrying time of commodity-oriented products and by leveraging the specialized product knowledge of our product specialists to manage purchasing and inventory levels when appropriate.

Our Operations and Distribution Centers

Operating out of 24 distribution centers of varying size and providing service six days a week in many areas, we utilize our fleet of delivery trucks to fill customer orders, usually within 12-24 hours of order placement. Our average distribution service level, or the percentage of in-stock items ordered by customers that were delivered by the requested date, was in excess of 97% as of fiscal year ended December 30, 2016, which our management believes is among the highest in the foodservice distribution industry. To achieve these high service levels, we have invested significantly in sophisticated warehousing, inventory control and distribution systems, as described in more detail below.

We have implemented pick-to-voice technology in each of our distribution facilities, which will enable our warehouse employees to fill orders with greater speed and accuracy.

Products are delivered to our distribution centers primarily by contract carriers, the suppliers themselves and our fleet of trucks. We lease our trucks from national leasing companies and regional firms that offer competitive services. Customer orders are assembled in our distribution centers and then sorted, placed on pallets and loaded onto trucks and trailers in delivery sequence. The majority of our trucks and delivery trailers have multiple, temperature-controlled compartments that ensure all product is delivered to the customer at its optimal temperature.

We employ advanced routing and logistics planning software, which maximizes the number of daily deliveries that each of our trucks can make, while also enabling us to typically make deliveries within each customer’s preferred 2-3 hour time window. For our direct-to-consumer business, we ship through nationally recognized couriers. We also use GPS and vehicle monitoring technology to regularly evaluate the condition of our delivery trucks and monitor the performance of our drivers, by tracking their progress relative to their delivery schedule and providing information regarding hard braking, idling and fast starts. Our use of this technology allows us to conduct proactive fleet maintenance, provide timely customer service and improve our risk management.

Our Technology Systems

We maintain an advanced information technology platform that enables us to manage our operations across our various markets, as we seek to drive our growth and profitability and ensure that the needs of our customers are met in an accurate and efficient manner. We have made significant investments in distribution, sales, information and warehouse management systems

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over the last seven years, and are in the process of implementing a fully-integrated ERP system. We are also in the process of implementing a fully integrated warehouse management system at some of our recently acquired distribution facilities. Our systems improvements include the implementation or enhancement of a web-based purchasing and advanced planning system that provides advanced forecasting and planning tools, vehicle monitoring and route optimization software and pick-to-voice and directed put-away systems. We are accelerating the rollout of our new ecommerce platform, which we believe will enable a much more seamless online customer experience. Also over the last five years, we have also implemented an internally developed, web-based reporting tool which provides real-time sales, pricing and profitability analysis for our management and sales professionals. These improvements have been made in an effort to improve our efficiency, as we continue to grow our business. We believe that our current systems are scalable and can be leveraged to support our future growth.

Intellectual Property

Except for the Spoleto, Bel Aria, Grand Reserve, Provvista, Argonaut, Praml, Black Falls, Michael’s, Chocoa, Crescendo, Matisse, Qzina, Coccinelle, Allen Brothers, The Great Steakhouse Steaks, Del Monte and The Chefs’ Warehouse trademarks, we do not own or have the right to use any patent, trademark, trade name, license, franchise or concession, the loss of which would have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.

Competition

The foodservice distribution industry is highly competitive. We compete with numerous smaller distributors on a local level, as well as with a limited number of national broadline foodservice distributors. Certain of these distributors have greater financial and other resources than we do. Bidding for contracts or arrangements with customers, particularly larger hotels and caterers, is highly competitive and distributors may market their services to a particular customer over a long period of time before they are invited to bid. We believe that most purchasing decisions in the foodservice distribution industry are based upon the quality and price of the product distributed and the distributor’s ability to completely and accurately fill orders and deliver them in a timely manner.

Employees

As of December 30, 2016, we had 1,948 full-time employees, 210 of whom (approximately 10.8%) currently operate under a collective bargaining agreement and are represented by unions. This collective bargaining agreement expires in August 2017. We offer attractive compensation and benefit packages, and we believe our relationship with our employees is satisfactory.

Regulation

As a distributor of specialty food products and meat and seafood in the United States and Canada, we are subject to regulation by numerous international, federal, state, provincial and local regulatory agencies. For example, at the U.S. federal level, we are subject to the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, the Bioterrorism Act and regulations promulgated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”). The FDA regulates manufacturing and holding requirements for foods, specifies the standards of identity for certain foods and prescribes the format and content of certain information required to appear on food product labels, among other responsibilities. For certain product lines, we are also subject to the Federal Meat Inspection Act, the Poultry Products Inspection Act, the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act, the Country of Origin Labeling Act and regulations promulgated thereunder by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (“USDA”). The USDA imposes standards for product quality and sanitation, including the inspection and labeling of meat and poultry products and the grading and commercial acceptance of produce shipments from vendors. In January 2011, President Obama signed into law the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, which greatly expands the FDA’s authority over food safety, including giving the FDA power to order the recall of unsafe foods, increase inspections at food processing facilities, issue regulations regarding the sanitary transportation of food, enhance tracking and tracing requirements and order the detention of food that it has “reason to believe” is adulterated or misbranded, among other provisions. The products we distribute in Canada are also subject to regulation and inspection by Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Our suppliers are also subject to similar regulatory requirements and oversight. The failure to comply with applicable regulatory requirements could result in civil or criminal fines or penalties, product recalls, closure of facilities or operations, the loss or revocation of existing licenses, permits or approvals or the failure to obtain additional licenses, permits or approvals in new jurisdictions where we intend to do business.

We are also subject to state and local regulation through such measures as the licensing of our facilities, enforcement by state and local health agencies of state and local standards for our products and facilities and regulation of our trade practices in connection with the sale of products. Our facilities are generally inspected at least annually by federal and/or state authorities. These facilities are also subject to inspections and regulations issued pursuant to the Occupational Safety and Health Act by the U.S. Department of Labor, which require us to comply with certain manufacturing, health and safety standards to protect our

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employees from accidents and to establish hazard communication programs to transmit information about the hazards of certain chemicals present in certain products that we distribute. Our Canadian warehouse, distribution facilities, repackaging activities and other operations also are subject to regulation and inspection by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and provincial health authorities.

Our trucking operations are regulated by the Surface Transportation Board, the Federal Highway Administration, Transport Canada and Canadian provincial transportation authorities. In addition, interstate motor carrier operations are subject to safety requirements prescribed by the U.S. Department of Transportation and other relevant federal and state agencies. Such matters as weight and dimension of equipment are also subject to federal and state regulations. We believe that we are in compliance with applicable regulatory requirements relating to our motor carrier operations. Our failure to comply with the applicable motor carrier regulations could result in substantial fines or revocation of our operating permits.

Our operations are subject to a broad range of federal, state, provincial and local environmental health and safety laws and regulations, including those governing discharges to air, soil and water, the handling and disposal of hazardous substances and the investigation and remediation of contamination resulting from releases of petroleum products and other hazardous substances.

We believe that we are in material compliance with all international, federal, state, provincial and local regulations applicable to our operations, and management is unaware of any related issues that may have a material adverse effect upon our business, financial condition or results of operations.

Litigation and Insurance

We may be subject to lawsuits, claims and assessments in the normal course of business. Our management does not believe that there are any suits, claims or unasserted claims or assessments pending which would have a material adverse effect on our operations or financial condition.

We maintain comprehensive insurance packages with respect to our facilities, equipment, product liability, directors and officers, workers’ compensation and employee matters in amounts which management believes to be prudent and customary within the foodservice distribution industry.

Seasonality

Excluding our direct-to-consumer business, we generally do not experience any material seasonality. However, our sales and operating results may vary from quarter to quarter due to factors such as changes in our operating expenses, management’s ability to execute our operating and growth strategies, personnel changes, demand for our products, supply shortages, weather patterns and general economic conditions.

Our direct-to-consumer business is subject to seasonal fluctuations, with direct-to-consumer center-of-the-plate protein sales typically higher during the holiday season in our fourth quarter; accordingly, a disproportionate amount of operating cash flows from this portion of our business is generated in the fourth quarter. Despite a significant portion of these sales occurring in the fourth quarter, there are operating expenses, principally advertising and promotional expenses, throughout the year.

Inflation

Our profitability is dependent, among other things, on our ability to anticipate and react to changes in the costs of key operating resources, including food and other raw materials, labor, energy and other supplies and services. Substantial increases in costs and expenses could impact our operating results to the extent that such increases cannot be passed along to our customers. The impact of inflation on food, labor, energy and occupancy costs can significantly affect the profitability of our operations.

Available Information

Our principal executive office is located at 100 East Ridge Road, Ridgefield, Connecticut 06877, and our telephone number is (203) 894-1345. Our annual report on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, current reports on Form 8-K, and all amendments to those reports will be made available free of charge through the Investor Relations section of our website (http://www.chefswarehouse.com) as soon as practicable after such material is electronically filed with, or furnished to, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”). Material contained on our website is not incorporated by reference into this report.


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We have also adopted a Code of Business Conduct and Ethics (“Code of Ethics”) that applies to all of our employees, including our principal executive officer, principal financial officer, principal accounting officer and controller. Our Code of Ethics is publicly available on the Investor Relations section of our website (http://www.chefswarehouse.com) and is available free of charge by writing to The Chefs’ Warehouse, Inc., 100 East Ridge Road, Ridgefield, Connecticut 06877, Attn: Investor Relations. If we make any substantive amendments to the Code of Ethics or grant any waiver, including any implicit waiver, from a provision of the Code of Ethics to our principal executive officer, principal financial officer, principal accounting officer or controller, or persons performing similar functions, we intend to make any legally required disclosures regarding such amendments or waivers on the Investor Relations section of our website (http://www.chefswarehouse.com).

Please note that our website address is provided as an inactive textual reference only.

The public may also read and copy any materials that we file with the SEC at the SEC’s Public Reference Room at 100 F Street, NE, Washington, D.C. 20549. The public may obtain information on the operation of the Public Reference Room by calling the SEC at 1-800-SEC-0330. The SEC also maintains an Internet website that contains reports, proxy and information statements and other information regarding issuers, including us, that file electronically with the SEC located at http://www.sec.gov.

Executive Officers
NAME & POSITION
 
AGE
 
BUSINESS EXPERIENCE
Christopher Pappas
President, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board of Directors
 
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Christopher Pappas is our founder and has served as our chief executive officer since 1985 and has been a director on our board and our board chairman since our IPO, and he also served as a director and the chairman of the board of our predecessor company, Chefs’ Warehouse Holdings, LLC. He has been our president since April 11, 2009 and before that was our president from our formation to January 1, 2007. Prior to founding our company, Mr. C. Pappas played basketball professionally in Europe for several years following his graduation from Adelphi University in 1981 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration. Mr. C. Pappas currently oversees all of our business activities, with a focus on product procurement, sales, marketing, strategy development, business development and operations.
John Pappas
Vice Chairman and Director
 
53
 
John Pappas is a founder of our company and currently serves as our vice chairman, a position he has held since March 1, 2011. From our founding in 1985 to March 1, 2011, he served as our chief operating officer. Mr. J. Pappas has been a director on our board since our IPO, and he also served as a director on the board of our predecessor company, Chefs’ Warehouse Holdings, LLC. He has over 30 years of experience in logistics, facility management and global procurement and oversees our network of distribution centers nationwide. Mr. J. Pappas is also active in the development of our corporate strategy.
John Austin
Chief Financial Officer & Assistant Corporate Secretary
 
55
 
John Austin is our chief financial officer and assistant corporate secretary, positions he has held since July 1, 2012. Prior to joining our company he was a founder and chief financial officer of The Hilb Group, LLC, a regional mid-market insurance brokerage firm formed in 2009 which focused primarily on property and casualty insurance and employee benefits services. Prior to joining The Hilb Group in 2009, Mr. Austin was employed by Performance Food Group Company (“PFG”), a Richmond, Virginia-based publicly-traded foodservice distributor, from 1995 to 2009. Mr. Austin served his last six years at PFG as that company’s chief financial officer. Prior to joining PFG, Mr. Austin spent four years as the assistant controller for General Medical Corporation, a Richmond, Virginia-based distributor of medical supplies. He also spent the first six years of his career in public accounting, primarily with the Richmond, Virginia office of Deloitte & Touche.

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Alexandros Aldous
General Counsel & Corporate Secretary
 
36
 
Alexandros Aldous is our general counsel and corporate secretary, positions he has held since joining us in March 2011, and our IPO on July 27, 2011, respectively. Mr. Aldous’s prior work experience includes working as an attorney with Barclays Capital, the investment banking division of Barclays Bank PLC, in London, where he focused primarily on mergers and acquisitions and capital markets, and prior to that, working as an attorney with Shearman & Sterling LLP, in New York, where he focused primarily on mergers and acquisitions.   Mr. Aldous is a member of the Government Relations Leadership Committee of the International Foodservice Distributors Association, a member of the Global Alumni Advisory Board of the American College of Greece, as well as a member of the Dean’s Counsel of American University’s School of International Service.  Mr. Aldous earned a B.A. in Classics and Government from Colby College, a Juris Doctor and M.A. from American University and an LL.M. from the London School of Economics and Political Science. Mr. Aldous is licensed to practice law in the State of New York, District of Columbia, and England and Wales.
Patricia Lecouras
Chief Human Resources Officer
 
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Patricia Lecouras is our chief human resources officer, a position she has held since March 5, 2007. Ms. Lecouras joined our company from GE Capital Commercial Finance where she was vice president, human resources from 2001 to 2007. Prior to her time with GE Capital Commercial Finance, Ms. Lecouras was with Nine West Shoes (f/k/a Fischer Camuto Corporation) and Xerox. Ms. Lecouras’s professional experience is multidisciplinary and includes prior experience working in finance and tax-related functions. She also has earned a six sigma master black belt certification. Ms. Lecouras holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and Social Work from Skidmore College.


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Item 1A.     RISK FACTORS

Our business, financial condition and results of operations are subject to various risks and uncertainties, including those described below and elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. This section discusses factors that, individually or in the aggregate, we think could cause our actual results to differ materially from our expected and historical results. Our business, financial condition or results of operations could be materially adversely affected by any of these risks. We note these factors for investors as permitted by the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995.

Our success depends to a significant extent upon general economic conditions, including disposable income levels and changes in consumer discretionary spending.

Because our target customers include menu-driven independent restaurants, fine dining establishments, country clubs, hotels, caterers, culinary schools, bakeries, patisseries, chocolatiers, cruise lines, casinos and specialty food stores, our business is exposed to reductions in disposable income levels and discretionary consumer spending. In uncertain economic environments, like those that have been present in the United States and Canada over the last several years, consumers’ discretionary spending may be negatively impacted. Economic conditions may remain volatile and may continue to repress consumer confidence and discretionary spending for the near term. If uncertain economic conditions continue for a prolonged period of time or worsen, consumers may choose to spend discretionary dollars less frequently which could result in a decline in consumers’ food-away-from-home purchases, particularly in more expensive restaurants, and, consequently, adversely impact the businesses of our customers by, among other things, reducing the frequency with which our customers’ customers choose to dine out or the amount they spend on meals while dining out. If our customers’ sales decrease, our profitability could decline as we spread fixed costs across a lower volume of sales. Moreover, if a prolonged downturn or uncertain outlook in the economy persists for an extended period of time or becomes more pervasive, consumers might ultimately make long-lasting changes to their discretionary spending behavior, including dining out less frequently on a permanent basis. Accordingly, adverse changes to consumer preferences or consumer discretionary spending, each of which could be affected by many different factors which are out of our control, could harm our business, financial condition or results of operations. Our continued success will depend in part upon our ability to anticipate, identify and respond to changing economic and other conditions and the impact that those conditions may have on discretionary consumer spending.

A significant portion of our future growth is dependent upon our ability to expand our operations in our existing markets and to penetrate new markets either through organic growth or through acquisitions.

We intend to expand our presence in our existing markets by adding to our existing customer base through the expansion of our product portfolio and the increase in the volume and/or number of purchase orders from our existing customers. We cannot assure our investors, however, that we will be able to continue to successfully expand or acquire critical market presence in our existing markets, as we may not successfully market our specialty food and center-of-the-plate products and brands or may encounter larger and/or more well-established competitors with substantially greater financial resources. Moreover, competitive circumstances and consumer characteristics in new segments of existing markets may differ substantially from those in the segments in which we have substantial experience. If we are unable to expand in existing markets, our ability to increase our revenues and profitability may be affected in a material and adverse manner. At times, we have grown our business by expanding into new geographic markets. Efforts to expand organically may take time to produce revenues that exceed our expenses in these new markets, which can be high as we build out our infrastructure and hire associates to run our operations.

We also regularly evaluate opportunities to acquire other companies. To the extent our future growth includes acquisitions, we cannot assure investors in our common stock that we will successfully identify suitable acquisition candidates, obtain financing for such acquisitions, if necessary, consummate such potential acquisitions, effectively and efficiently integrate any acquired entities or successfully expand into new markets as a result of our acquisitions. Moreover, to the extent that we acquire companies that are principally involved in the distribution of products that we have not historically distributed, like fresh produce, there may be additional risks that we face.

We may not achieve benefits expected from our acquisitions, including our recent acquisition of MT Food, which could adversely impact our business and operating results.

We believe that there are risks related to acquiring companies, including overpaying for acquisitions, losing key employees of acquired companies, failing to identify potential liabilities associated with the acquisition of the business prior to our acquisition and failing to achieve potential synergies. Additionally, our business could be adversely affected if we are unable to integrate the companies we acquired.


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On June 26, 2016, we completed our acquisition of MT Food. We can provide no assurance that: (1) the anticipated benefits of the MT Food transaction, including any cost savings and operational synergies, will be fully realized in the time frame anticipated or at all, (2) the costs or difficulties related to the integration of the MT Food business and operations into ours will not be greater than expected, (3) unanticipated costs, charges and expenses, including those related to the retention of the MT Food labor force, will not result from the transaction, and (4) the transaction will not cause disruption to our business and operations and our relationships with customers, employees and other third parties. If one or more of these or other risks are realized, it could have a material adverse impact on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

A significant portion of our past growth has been achieved through acquisitions of, or mergers with, other distributors of specialty food products and center-of-the-plate protein items. Our future acquisitions may have a material adverse effect on our results of operations, particularly in periods immediately following the consummation of those transactions while the operations of the acquired business are being integrated with our operations. Achieving the benefits of acquisitions depends on timely, efficient and successful execution of a number of post-acquisition events, including successful integration of the acquired entity. Integration requires, among other things:

maintaining the existing customer and supplier base and personnel;
optimizing delivery routes;
coordinating administrative, distribution and finance functions; and
integrating management information systems and personnel.

The integration process may temporarily redirect resources previously focused on reducing product cost, resulting in lower gross profits in relation to sales. In addition, the process of combining companies could cause the interruption of, or a loss of momentum in, the activities of the respective businesses, which could have an adverse effect on their combined operations. In an effort to streamline the acquisition and integration process and achieve expected cost savings and operational synergies more quickly, we implemented an integration team during fiscal 2014, which is dedicated to onboarding new acquisitions and integrating information technology systems as quickly and efficiently as possible. We believe that having a team dedicated to integration will help make sure the people, processes and products we add through acquisitions are consistent with our historical business and will allow our management team to focus its attention on our day-to-day operations. If we are unable to fully implement the integration team in a timely manner or at all or it does not improve our integration process, the integration of acquisitions could continue to divert the attention of management, and any difficulties or problems encountered in the integration process could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.

In connection with our acquisition of businesses in the future, if any, we may decide to consolidate the operations of any acquired business with our existing operations or make other changes with respect to the acquired business, which could result in special charges or other expenses. Our results of operations also may be adversely affected by expenses we incur in making acquisitions, by amortization of acquisition-related intangible assets with definite lives and by additional depreciation attributable to acquired assets. Any of the businesses we acquire may also have liabilities or adverse operating issues, including some that we fail to discover before the acquisition, and our indemnity for such liabilities typically has been limited and may, with respect to future acquisitions, also be limited. Additionally, our ability to make any future acquisitions may depend upon obtaining additional financing or the consents of our lenders. We may not be able to obtain this additional financing or these consents on acceptable terms or at all. Moreover, we may need to finance our acquisition activity with the issuance of equity or debt securities, which may have rights and preferences superior to those of our common stock and, in the case of common equity securities, may be issued at such prices and in such amounts as may cause significant dilution to our then-existing common stockholders. To the extent we seek to acquire other businesses in exchange for our common stock, fluctuations in our stock price could have a material adverse effect on our ability to complete acquisitions.

In addition, although we enter into acquisition agreements with each company or business we acquire that contain customary representations, warranties, covenants and indemnities, there is no guarantee that we will recover all of our losses that may result from a breach of such agreements. For example, most acquisition agreements contain baskets or deductibles and caps and limitations on damages and on periods in which we may bring a claim. In addition, there can be no guarantee that we will be successful on the merits of any claim that we bring arising out of a breach of an acquisition agreement or that if we are successful on the merits in bringing a claim that the sellers of the businesses we acquire will be able to pay us for our losses. Moreover, the costs that we incur to investigate a potential matter may not be fully recoverable. Additionally, as a result of an acquisition, we may enter into a new business or market or offer products that differ from our core business. Any such new business or market or the sale and distribution of new products may present new challenges for us, and we may not be able to overcome such challenges. Additionally, we may seek to distribute a different set of products than the business that we acquire, which may cause a loss of customers of those businesses if we can no longer carry the products they desire or charge more for those products than was charged before we acquired the business.


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Our failure to realize the benefits expected from our acquisitions could result in a reduction in the price of our common stock as well as in increased costs, decreases in the amount of expected revenues and diversion of management’s time and energy and could materially and adversely impact our business, financial condition or results of operations.

We may have difficulty managing and facilitating our future growth.

At times since our inception, we have rapidly expanded our operations through organic growth, acquisitions or otherwise. This growth has placed and will continue to place significant demands upon our administrative, operational and financial resources. This growth, however, may not continue. To the extent that our customer base and our distribution networks continue to grow, this future growth may be limited by our inability to acquire new distribution facilities or expand our existing distribution facilities, make acquisitions, successfully integrate acquired entities, implement information systems initiatives or adequately manage our personnel.

Moreover, our future growth may be limited in part by the size and location of our distribution centers. As we near maximum utilization of a given facility, our operations may be constrained and inefficiencies may be created, which could adversely affect our results of operations unless the facility is expanded, volume is shifted to another facility or additional processing capacity is added. Conversely, as we add additional facilities or expand existing operations or facilities, excess capacity may be created. Any excess capacity may also create inefficiencies and adversely affect our results of operations. We cannot assure investors in our common stock that we will be able to successfully expand our existing distribution facilities or open new distribution facilities in new or existing markets as needed to facilitate growth.

Even if we are able to expand our distribution network, our ability to compete effectively and to manage future growth, if any, will depend on our ability to continue to implement and improve operational, financial and management information systems on a timely basis and to expand, train, motivate and manage our employees. We cannot assure investors in our common stock that our existing personnel, systems, procedures and controls will be adequate to support the future growth of our operations. Accordingly, our inability to manage our growth effectively could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.

Conditions beyond our control could materially affect the cost and/or availability of our specialty food products or center-of-the-plate products and/or interrupt our distribution network.

Our profitability and operating margins are dependent upon, among other things, our ability to anticipate and react to any interruptions in our distribution network and changes to food costs and availability. We obtain a significant portion of our specialty food products and center-of-the-plate products from local, regional, national and international third-party suppliers. We generally do not enter into long-term contracts with our suppliers, whereby they would be committed to provide products to us for any appreciable duration of time. Although our purchasing volume can provide leverage when dealing with suppliers, particularly smaller suppliers for whom we may be their largest customer, suppliers may not provide or may be unable to provide the specialty food products or center-of-the-plate products we need in the quantities and at the times and prices we request. Failure to identify an alternate source of supply for these items or comparable products that meet our customers’ expectations may result in significant cost increases. Additionally, weather, governmental regulation, water shortages, availability and seasonality may affect our food costs or cause a disruption in the quantity of our supply. For example, weather patterns in recent years have resulted in lower than normal or, conversely, higher than normal levels of rainfall and snowfall in key agricultural states such as California, impacting the price of water and the corresponding prices of food products grown in states affected by such weather. Additionally, the route-to-market for some of the products we sell, such as baking chocolate, depends upon the stability of political climates and a stable labor force in developing nations, such as the Ivory Coast. In such countries, political and social unrest may cause the prices for these products to rise to levels beyond those that our customers are willing to pay, if the product is available at all. If we are unable to obtain these products, our customers may seek a different supplier for these or other products which could negatively impact our business, financial condition or results of operations.

We do not currently use financial instruments to hedge our risk exposure to market fluctuations in the price of food products. Similarly, our suppliers may also be affected by higher costs to source or produce and transport food products, as well as by other related expenses that they pass through to their customers, which could result in higher costs for the specialty food products or center-of-the-plate products they supply to us. Our inability to anticipate and react to changing food costs through our sourcing and purchasing practices in the future could therefore negatively impact our business, financial condition or results of operations.

We may also be subject to material supply chain interruptions based upon conditions outside of our control. These interruptions could include work slowdowns, work interruptions, strikes or other adverse employment actions taken by employees of ours or our suppliers, short-term weather conditions or more prolonged climate change, crop conditions, product recalls, water

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shortages, transportation interruptions within our distribution channels, unavailability of fuel or increases in fuel costs, competitive demands and natural disasters or other catastrophic events, such as food-borne illnesses or bioterrorism. The efficiency and effectiveness of our distribution network is dependent upon our suppliers’ ability to consistently deliver the specialty food products and meat, poultry and seafood we need in the quantities and at the times and prices we request. Accordingly, if we are unable to obtain the specialty food products or meat, poultry or seafood that comprise a significant percentage of our product portfolio in a timely manner and in the quantities and at the prices we request as a result of any of the foregoing factors or otherwise, we may be unable to fulfill our obligations to customers who may, as a result of any such failure, resort to other distributors for their food product needs or change the types of products they buy from us to products that are less profitable for us.

Our increased distribution of center-of-the-plate products, like meat, poultry and seafood, following our acquisitions of Michael’s, Allen Brothers and Del Monte, involves risks that we have not historically faced.

With our acquisitions of Michael’s, Allen Brothers and Del Monte, a larger percentage of our revenues is expected to come from center-of-the-plate products than has historically been the case. With our increased distribution of center-of-the-plate products like meat, poultry and seafood, we are more susceptible to increases in the prices of those products, and we cannot assure investors in our common stock that all or part of any increased costs experienced by us from time to time can be passed along to consumers of our products, in a timely manner or at all. Conversely, rapid downward pricing for these products, including as a result of restrictions on the exporting of U.S. beef products or lower demand internationally for U.S. beef products, may result in our lowering our prices to our customers even though our inventory on hand is at a higher cost. The supply and market price of our center-of the plate products are typically more volatile than most of our core specialty products and are dependent upon a variety of factors over which we have no control, including the relative cost of feed and energy, weather, livestock diseases, government regulation and the availability of beef, chicken and seafood.

The prices of our meat and poultry products are largely dependent on the production of feed ingredients, which is affected primarily by the global level of supply inventories and demand for feed ingredients, the agricultural policies of the U.S. and foreign governments and weather patterns throughout the world. In particular, weather patterns often change agricultural conditions in an unpredictable manner. A significant change in weather patterns could affect supplies of feed ingredients, as well as the industry’s ability to obtain feed ingredients or deliver products. More recently, feed prices have been impacted by increased demand both domestically for ethanol and globally for protein production.

Additionally, our center-of-the-plate business is subject to risks relating to animal health and diseases. An outbreak of diseases affecting livestock (such as foot-and-mouth disease or bovine spongiform encephalopathy, commonly referred to as mad cow disease) could result in restrictions on sales of products, restrictions on purchases of livestock from suppliers or widespread destruction of livestock. Outbreaks of diseases, or the perception by the public that an outbreak has occurred, or other concerns regarding diseases, can lead to inadequate supply, cancellation of orders by customers and adverse publicity, any of which can have a significant negative impact on consumer demand and, as a result, on our business, financial condition or results of operations.

In addition, meat, seafood and poultry products that we distribute could be subject to recall because they are, or are alleged to be, contaminated, spoiled or inappropriately labeled. Our meat and poultry products may be subject to contamination by disease-producing organisms, or pathogens, such as Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella and generic E.coli. These pathogens are generally found in the environment, and, as a result, there is a risk that they, as a result of food processing, could be present in the meat and poultry products that we distribute. These pathogens can also be introduced as a result of improper handling in our facilities or at the consumer level. These risks may be controlled, although not eliminated, by adherence to good manufacturing practices and finished product testing. We have little, if any, control over proper handling before we receive the product or once the product has been shipped to our customers. Illness and death may result if the pathogens are not eliminated before these products are sold to customers.

We are also susceptible to increases in the prices of our seafood products. The prices of our seafood products are largely dependent on the continuous supply of fresh seafood, which in turn could be affected by a large number of factors, including, but not limited to, environmental factors, the availability of seafood stock, weather conditions, water contamination, the policies and regulations of the governments of the relevant territories where such fishing is carried out, the ability of the fishing companies and fishermen that supply us to continue their operations and pressure from environmental or animal rights groups. The major raw material for our seafood products is fresh seafood, and any shortage in supply or upsurge in demand of fresh seafood may lead to an increase in prices, which may adversely affect our profitability, including as a result of increased production costs and lower profit margins.


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Our operations are subject to extensive regulation and oversight by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and other federal, state, local and foreign authorities regarding the processing, packaging, storage, safety, distribution, advertising and labeling of its products. Recently, food safety practices and procedures in the meat processing industry have been subject to more intense scrutiny and oversight by the USDA. Failure to comply with existing or new laws and regulations could result in administrative penalties and injunctive relief, civil remedies, fines, interruption of operations, recalls of products or seizures of properties, potential criminal sanctions and personal injury or other damage claims. These remedies, changes in the applicable laws and regulations or discovery of currently unknown conditions could increase costs, limit business operations and reduce profitability.

Our business is a low-margin business and our profit margins may be sensitive to inflationary and deflationary pressures.

We operate within a segment of the foodservice distribution industry, which is an industry characterized by a high volume of sales with relatively low profit margins. Although our profit margins are typically higher than more traditional broadline foodservice distributors, they are still relatively low compared to other industries’ profit margins. Volatile food costs may have a direct impact upon our profitability. Prolonged periods of product cost inflation may have a negative impact on our profit margins and results of operations to the extent we are unable to pass on all or a portion of such product cost increases to our customers. In addition, product cost inflation may negatively impact consumer discretionary spending decisions within our customers’ establishments, which could adversely impact our sales. Conversely, our profit levels may be negatively impacted during periods of product cost deflation even though our gross profit as a percentage of sales may remain relatively constant. However, some of our products, particularly certain of our protein items, are priced on a cost plus a dollar markup, which helps mitigate the negative impact of deflation. If our product mix changes, we may face increased risks of compression of our margins, as we may be unable to achieve the same level of profit margins as we are able to capture on our traditional specialty products. Our inability to effectively price our specialty food products or center-of-the-plate products, to quickly respond to inflationary and deflationary cost pressures and to reduce our expenses could have a material adverse impact on our business, financial condition or results of operations.

Group purchasing organizations may become more active in our industry and increase their efforts to add our customers as members of these organizations.

Some of our customers, including a majority of our hotel customers, purchase their products from us through group purchasing organizations. These organizations have increased their efforts to aggregate the purchasing power of smaller, independent restaurants in an effort to lower the prices paid by these customers on their foodservice orders, and we have experienced some pricing pressure from these purchasers. If these group purchasing organizations are able to add a significant number of our customers as members, we may be forced to lower the prices we charge these customers in order to retain the business, which would negatively affect our business, financial condition or results of operations. Additionally, if we were unable or unwilling to lower the prices we charge for our products to a level that was satisfactory to the group purchasing organization, we may lose the business of those of our customers that are members of these organizations, which could have a material adverse impact on our business, financial condition or results of operations.

Because our foodservice distribution operations are concentrated in certain culinary markets, we are susceptible to economic and other developments, including adverse weather conditions, in these areas.

Our financial condition and results of operations are highly dependent upon the local economies of the culinary markets in which we distribute our products. In recent years, certain of these markets have been more negatively impacted by the overall economic crisis, including experiencing higher unemployment rates and weaker housing market conditions, than other areas of the United States and Canada. Moreover, sales in our New York market, which we define as our operations on the East Coast of the United States spanning from Boston to Atlantic City, accounted for approximately 29% of our net sales in our 2016 fiscal year. We are therefore particularly exposed to downturns in this regional economy. Following our acquisition of Del Monte, we now have significant operations in the San Francisco Bay area and Los Angeles, California and following our acquisitions of MT Food, we now have significant operations in Chicago, Illinois. Deterioration in the economic conditions of our key markets generally, or in the local economy of the New York metropolitan area, San Francisco Bay, Los Angeles, California, or Chicago, Illinois areas, specifically, could affect our business, financial condition or results of operations in a materially adverse manner.

In addition, given our geographic concentrations, other regional occurrences such as adverse weather conditions, terrorist attacks and other catastrophic events could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations. Adverse weather conditions can significantly impact the business of our customers and our ability to profitably and efficiently conduct our operations and, in severe cases, could result in our trucks being unable to make deliveries or cause the temporary closure or the destruction of one or more of our distribution centers. Our operations and/or distribution centers which are located in (i) New York City, Ohio, Washington D.C., Chicago and Canada are particularly susceptible to significant

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amounts of snowfall and ice, (ii) Miami are particularly susceptible to hurricanes and (iii) Los Angeles and San Francisco are particularly susceptible to earthquakes and mudslides. In addition, our restaurant customers, many of which are independently owned with operations limited to one or two markets, may be less able to withstand the impact on their business from adverse weather conditions than national chain restaurants because they are unable to spread the risks of such events across numerous locations. In some cases these customers may not be able to re-open their restaurants, and consequently make payment to us for products previously provided, if the weather event or other catastrophic event is severe, particularly if they lacked sufficient insurance or their insurance claims are not processed quickly.

Due to their prominence as, among other characteristics, densely-populated major metropolitan cities and as international hubs for intermodal transportation, a majority of our markets are known as targets for terrorist activity and other catastrophic events. If our or our customers’ operations are significantly disrupted or if any one or more of our distribution centers is temporarily closed or destroyed for any of the foregoing reasons, our business, financial condition or results of operations may be materially adversely affected. In anticipation of any such adverse weather conditions, terrorist attacks, man-made disasters or other unforeseen regional occurrences, we have implemented a disaster recovery plan. Should any of these events occur, and if we are unable to execute our disaster recovery plan, we may experience challenges in acquiring and distributing our products, failures or delays in the recovery of critical data, delayed reporting and compliance with governmental entities, inability to perform necessary corporate functions and other breakdowns in normal operating procedures that could have a material adverse effect on our business and create exposure to administrative and other legal claims against us.

Damage to our reputation or lack of acceptance of our specialty food products, center-of-the-plate products and/or the brands we carry in existing and new markets could materially and adversely impact our business, financial condition or results of operations.

We believe that we have built a strong reputation for the breadth and depth of our product portfolio and the brands we carry and that we must protect and grow their value to be successful in the future. Any incident that erodes consumer confidence in or affinity for our specialty food or center-of-the-plate products or brands, whether or not justified, could significantly reduce their respective values and damage our business. If our customers perceive or experience a reduction in the quality or selection of our products and brands or our customer service, or in any way believe that we failed to deliver a consistently positive experience, our business, financial condition or results of operations may be affected in a materially adverse manner.

A specialty foods distribution business such as ours can be adversely affected by negative publicity or news reports, whether or not accurate, regarding food quality issues, public health concerns, illness, safety, injury or government or industry findings concerning our products or others across the food distribution industry. Although we have taken steps to mitigate food quality, public health and other foodservice-related risks, these types of health concerns or negative publicity cannot be completely eliminated or mitigated and may harm our results of operations and damage the reputation of, or result in a lack of acceptance of, our products or the brands we carry.

In addition, our ability to successfully penetrate new markets may be adversely affected by a lack of awareness or acceptance of our product portfolio or our brands in these new markets. To the extent we are unable to foster name recognition and affinity for our products and brands in new markets, we may not be able to penetrate these markets as anticipated, and, consequently, our growth may be significantly delayed or impaired.

Our customers are generally not obligated to continue purchasing products from us.

Most of our customers buy from us pursuant to individual purchase orders, as we generally do not enter into long-term agreements with our customers for the purchase of our products. Because our customers are generally not obligated to continue purchasing products from us, we cannot assure our investors that the volume and/or number of our customers’ purchase orders will remain constant or increase or that we will be able to maintain or add to our existing customer base. Significant decreases in the volume and/or number of our customers’ purchase orders or our inability to retain or grow our current customer base may have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.

We have experienced losses due to our inability to collect accounts receivable in the past and could experience increases in such losses in the future if our customers are unable to pay their debts to us in a timely manner or at all.

Certain of our customers have experienced bankruptcy, insolvency and/or an inability to pay their debts to us as they come due. If our customers suffer significant financial difficulties or bankruptcies, they may be unable to pay their debts to us in a timely manner or at all. It is possible that our customers may contest their obligations to pay us under bankruptcy laws or otherwise. Even if our customers do not contest their obligations to pay us, if our customers are unable to pay their debts to us in a timely manner, it could adversely impact our ability to collect accounts receivable and may require that we take larger provisions for

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bad debt expense. Moreover, we may have to negotiate significant discounts and/or extended financing terms with these customers in such a situation in an attempt to secure payment for outstanding debts. Accordingly, if we are unable to collect upon our accounts receivable as they come due in an efficient and timely manner, our business, financial condition or results of operations may be materially and adversely affected. During periods of economic weakness, small to medium-sized businesses, like many of our independent restaurant and fine dining establishment customers, may be impacted more severely and more quickly than larger businesses. Consequently, the ability of such businesses to repay their obligations to us may deteriorate, and in some cases this deterioration may occur quickly, which could adversely impact our business, financial condition or results of operations.

Product liability claims could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.

Like any other distributor of food products, we face an inherent risk of exposure to product liability claims if the products we sell cause injury or illness. We may be subject to liability, which could be substantial, because of actual or alleged contamination in products sold by us, including products sold by companies before we acquired them. We have, and the companies we have acquired have had, liability insurance with respect to product liability claims. This insurance may not continue to be available at a reasonable cost or at all, and it may not be adequate to cover product liability claims against us or against any of the companies we have acquired. We generally seek contractual indemnification from manufacturers or suppliers of the product, but any such indemnification is limited, as a practical matter, to the creditworthiness of the indemnifying party. If we or any of our acquired companies do not have adequate insurance or contractual indemnification available, product liability claims and costs associated with product recalls, including a loss of business, could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.

Fuel cost volatility may have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.

Fuel cost volatility may have a negative impact on our business, financial condition or results of operations. The cost of diesel fuel can increase the price we pay for products as well as the costs we incur to distribute products to our customers. These factors, in turn, may negatively impact our net sales, margins, operating expenses and operating results. Although we have been able to pass along a portion of increased fuel costs to our customers in the past, there is no guarantee we can do so again. If fuel costs increase in the future, we may experience difficulties in passing all or a portion of these costs along to our customers, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.

New information or attitudes regarding diet and health or adverse opinions about the health effects of the products we distribute could result in changes in consumer eating habits, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.

Consumer eating habits may impact our business as a result of changes in attitudes regarding diet and health or new information regarding the health effects of consuming the products we distribute. If consumer eating habits change significantly, we may be required to modify or discontinue sales of certain items in our product portfolio, and we may experience higher costs associated with the implementation of those changes. Additionally, changes in consumer eating habits may result in the enactment of laws and regulations that impact the ingredients and nutritional content of our products or require us to disclose the nutritional content of products. Compliance with these laws and regulations, as well as others regarding the ingredients and nutritional content of our products, may be costly and time consuming. We cannot make any assurances regarding our ability to effectively respond to changes in consumer health perceptions or resulting new laws or regulations or to adapt our menu offerings to trends in eating habits.

We have significant competition from a variety of sources, and we may not be able to compete successfully.

The foodservice distribution industry is highly fragmented and competitive, and our future success will be largely dependent upon our ability to profitably meet our customers’ needs for certain gourmet foods and ingredients, varying drop sizes, high service levels and timely delivery. We compete with numerous smaller distributors on a local level, as well as with a limited number of larger, traditional broadline foodservice distributors. We cannot assure our investors that our current or potential competitors will not provide specialty food products and ingredients, protein items or services that are comparable or superior to those provided by us at prices that are lower than the prices we charge or adapt more quickly than we do to evolving culinary trends or changing market requirements. It is also possible that alliances among competitors may develop and rapidly acquire significant market share. Accordingly, we cannot assure our investors that we will be able to compete effectively against current and future competitors, and increased competition may result in price reductions, reduced gross margins and loss of market share, any of which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.



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Our substantial indebtedness may limit our ability to invest in the ongoing needs of our business.

We have a substantial amount of indebtedness. As of December 30, 2016, we had approximately $341.5 million of total indebtedness. We had approximately $291.6 million of outstanding indebtedness under the Term Loan Facility and nothing outstanding under the ABL Facility. In addition, at December 30, 2016, we owed $11.0 million under our NMTC Loan to build out our Bronx, New York distribution facility, and we also had $2.1 million outstanding under capital leases and other financing agreements for computer equipment, vehicles and software. Moreover, as part of the consideration we paid in connection with our acquisition of Del Monte, we issued to entities affiliated with Del Monte $36.75 million in convertible subordinated notes with a six-year maturity bearing interest at 2.5% per annum with a conversion price of $29.70 per share.

Our indebtedness could have important consequences to you. For example our indebtedness:

requires us to utilize a substantial portion of our cash flows from operations to make payments on our indebtedness, reducing the availability of our cash flows to fund working capital, capital expenditures, development activity and other general corporate purposes;
increases our vulnerability to adverse general economic or industry conditions;
limits our flexibility in planning for, or reacting to, changes in our business or the industries in which we operate;
makes us more vulnerable to increases in interest rates, as borrowings under our Term Loan Facility and ABL Facility (together the “New Credit Facilities”) are at variable rates;
limits our ability to obtain additional financing in the future for working capital or other purposes, including to finance acquisitions;
in the case of the convertible subordinated notes, could result in the issuance of additional shares of our common stock that would result in the dilution of our then-existing stockholders; and
places us at a competitive disadvantage compared to our competitors that have less indebtedness.

If our earnings are insufficient to fund our operations, including our acquisition growth strategy, we will need to raise additional capital or issue additional debt, including longer-term, fixed-rate debt, to pay our indebtedness as it comes due or as our availability under our ABL Facility is exhausted. If we are unable to obtain funds necessary to make required payments or if we fail to comply with the various requirements of our New Credit Facilities, or (subject to certain limitations on the holders ability to accelerate the obligations) our convertible subordinated notes issued in connection with the Del Monte acquisition, we would be in default, which would permit the holders of our indebtedness to accelerate the maturity of the indebtedness, or in the case of the convertible subordinated notes, convert the notes to common stock resulting in the holders of those notes and their affiliates becoming one of our largest stockholders, and could cause defaults under any indebtedness we may incur in the future. Any default under our indebtedness requiring the repayment of outstanding borrowings would have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations. If we are unable to refinance or repay our indebtedness as it becomes due, we may become insolvent and be unable to continue operations.

Although the agreements governing the New Credit Facilities contain restrictions on the incurrence of additional indebtedness, these restrictions are subject to a number of qualifications and exceptions, and the indebtedness incurred in compliance with these restrictions could be substantial. Also, these restrictions do not prevent us from incurring obligations that do not constitute indebtedness.

The agreements governing the New Credit Facilities require us to maintain fixed charge coverage ratios and leverage ratios, which become more restrictive over time. Our ability to comply with these ratios in the future may be affected by events beyond our control, and our inability to comply with the required financial ratios could result in a default under the New Credit Facilities. In the event of events of default, the lenders under the New Credit Facilities could elect to terminate lending commitments and declare all borrowings outstanding, together with accrued and unpaid interest and other fees, to be immediately due and payable. See Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations—Liquidity and Capital Resources.

Our ability to raise capital in the future may be limited.

Our business and operations may consume resources, including availability under our ABL Facility, faster than we currently anticipate. In the future, we may need to raise additional funds through the issuance of new equity securities, debt, including longer-term, fixed-rate debt, or a combination of both. Additional financing may not be available on favorable terms or at all. If adequate funds are not available on acceptable terms, we may be unable to fund our capital requirements or grow our business through acquisitions, or otherwise. If we issue new debt securities, the debt holders may have rights senior to those of our common stockholders to make claims on our assets, and the terms of any debt could restrict our operations, including our ability to pay dividends on our common stock. If we issue additional equity securities, existing stockholders will experience

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dilution, and the new equity securities could have rights senior to those of our common stock. Because our decision to issue securities in any future offering will depend upon market conditions and other factors beyond our control, we cannot predict or estimate the amount, timing or nature of our future offerings. Thus, our stockholders bear the risk of our future securities offerings reducing the market price of our common stock and diluting their interest.

We may be unable to obtain debt or other financing, including financing necessary to execute on our acquisition strategy, on favorable terms or at all.

There are inherent risks in our ability to borrow debt capital. Our lenders, including the lenders participating in the New Credit Facilities, may have suffered losses related to their lending and other financial relationships, especially as a result of a generally weak and uncertain national economy, increased financial instability of many borrowers and the declining value of their assets. As a result, lenders may become insolvent or tighten their lending standards, which could make it more difficult for us to borrow under our ABL Facility, refinance our existing indebtedness or obtain other financing on favorable terms or at all. Our access to funds under the New Credit Facilities is dependent upon the ability of our lenders to meet their funding commitments. Our financial condition and results of operations would be adversely affected in a material manner if we were unable to draw funds under the ABL Facility because of a lender default or if we had to obtain other cost-effective financing. Longer term disruptions in the capital and credit markets as a result of uncertainty, changing or increased regulation, reduced alternatives or failures of significant financial institutions could adversely affect our access to liquidity needed for our business. Any disruption could require us to take measures to conserve cash until the markets stabilize or until alternative credit arrangements or other funding for our business can be arranged. Such measures could include deferring capital expenditures (including our entry into new markets, including through acquisitions) and reducing or eliminating other discretionary uses of cash.

Information technology system failures or breaches of our network security could interrupt our operations and adversely affect our business.

We rely upon our computer systems and network infrastructure across our operations. Our business involves the storage and transmission of many types of sensitive or confidential information, including customers’ and suppliers’ personal information, private information about employees, and financial and strategic information about us and our operations. Our operations depend upon our ability to protect our computer equipment and systems against damage from physical theft, fire, power loss, telecommunications failure or other catastrophic events, as well as from internal and external security breaches, viruses, worms and other disruptive problems. Any damage or failure of our computer systems or network infrastructure that causes an interruption in our operations, or any unauthorized access to sensitive or confidential information, including as a result of hacking, could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations. Although we employ both internal resources and external consultants to conduct auditing and testing for weaknesses in our systems, controls, firewalls and encryption and intend to maintain and upgrade our security technology and operational procedures to prevent such damage, breaches or other disruptive problems, there can be no assurance that these security measures will be successful.

Our investments in information technology may not produce the benefits that we anticipate.

In an attempt to reduce our operating expenses, increase our operational efficiencies, boost our operating margins and more closely track the movement of our inventory in our protein business, we have aggressively invested in the development and implementation of new information technology. We may not be able to implement these technological changes in the time frame we have planned, and any delays in implementation could negatively impact our business, financial condition or results of operations. In addition, the costs to make these changes may exceed our estimates and will likely exceed any benefits that we realize during the early stages of implementation. Even if we are able to implement the changes as planned, and within our cost estimates, we may not be able achieve the expected efficiencies, cost savings and operational enhancements from these investments which could have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.

We may not be able to adequately protect our intellectual property, which, in turn, could harm the value of our brands and adversely affect our business.

Our ability to implement our business plan successfully depends in part upon our ability to further build brand recognition, including for our proprietary products, using our trademarks, service marks and other proprietary intellectual property, including our names and logos. We have registered or applied to register a number of our trademarks. We cannot assure investors in our common stock that our trademark applications will be approved. Third parties may also oppose our trademark applications, or otherwise challenge our use of the trademarks. In the event that our trademarks are successfully challenged, we could be forced to rebrand our goods and services, which could result in loss of brand recognition and could require us to devote resources to advertising and marketing new brands. If our efforts to register, maintain and protect our intellectual property are inadequate, or if any third party misappropriates, dilutes or infringes upon our intellectual property, the value of

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our brands may be harmed, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations and might prevent our brands from achieving or maintaining market acceptance.

We may also face the risk of claims that we have infringed third parties’ intellectual property rights. If third parties claim that we have infringed or are infringing upon their intellectual property rights, our operating profits could be affected in a materially adverse manner. Any claims of intellectual property infringement, even those without merit, could be expensive and time consuming to defend, require us to rebrand our services, if feasible, divert management’s attention and resources or require us to enter into royalty or licensing agreements in order to obtain the right to use a third party’s intellectual property. Any royalty or licensing agreements, if required, may not be available to us on acceptable terms or at all. A successful claim of infringement against us could result in our being required to pay significant damages, enter into costly license or royalty agreements, or stop the sale of certain products or services, any of which could have a negative impact on our business, financial condition or results of operations and could harm our future prospects.

Our business operations and future development could be significantly disrupted if we lose key members of our management team.

The success of our business significantly depends upon the continued contributions of our founders and key employees, both individually and as a group. Our future performance will substantially depend upon our ability to motivate and retain our founders Christopher Pappas, our chairman, president and chief executive officer, John Pappas, our vice chairman, as well as certain other senior key employees. The loss of the services of either of our founders or key employees, including key employees of the businesses we have acquired, could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations. We have no reason to believe that we will lose the services of these individuals in the foreseeable future; however, we currently have no effective replacement for these individuals due to their experience, reputation in the foodservice distribution industry and special role in our operations.

Our insurance policies may not provide adequate levels of coverage against all claims, and fluctuating insurance requirements and costs could negatively impact our profitability. In addition, if we fail to establish proper reserves and adequately estimate future expenses, the costs associated with our self-insured group medical, workers’ compensation liability and auto liability plans may adversely affect our business, financial condition or results of operations.

We believe that our insurance coverage is customary for businesses of our size and type. However, there are types of losses we may incur that cannot be insured against or that we believe are not commercially reasonable to insure. These losses, should they occur, could have a material and adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations. In addition, the cost of workers’ compensation insurance, auto liability insurance, general liability insurance and directors’ and officers’ liability insurance fluctuates based upon our historical trends, market conditions and availability. Because our operations principally are centered in large, metropolitan areas, our insurance costs are higher than if our operations and facilities were based in more rural markets. Additionally, health insurance costs in general have risen significantly over the past few years. These increases, as well as federal legislation requiring employers to provide specified levels of health insurance to all employees, could have a negative impact upon our business, financial condition or results of operations, and there can be no assurance that we will be able to successfully offset the effect of such increases with plan modifications and cost control measures, additional operating efficiencies or the pass-through of such increased costs to our customers.

Effective October 1, 2011, we began maintaining a self-insured group medical program. We record a liability for medical claims during the period in which they occur, as well as an estimate of incurred but not reported claims. Management determines the adequacy of these accruals based on a monthly evaluation of our historical claims experience and medical cost trends. Projections of future loss expenses are inherently uncertain because of the random nature of insurance claims occurrences and could be significantly affected if future occurrences and claims differ from these assumptions and historical trends. If we suffer a substantial loss that is not covered by our self- insurance reserves, the loss and attendant expenses could harm our business and operating results. We have purchased stop loss coverage from third parties which limits our exposure above the amounts we have self-insured.

Effective August 1, 2012, we became self-insured for workers’ compensation and automobile liability to deductibles or self-insured retentions of $350,000 for workers compensation and $250,000 for automobile liability per occurrence. The amounts in excess of our deductibles are fully insured by third party insurers. Liabilities associated with this program are estimated in part by considering historical claims experience and cost trends. Projections of future loss expenses are inherently uncertain because of the random nature of insurance claims occurrences and could be significantly affected if future occurrences and claims differ from these assumptions and historical trends.


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Increases in our labor costs, including as a result of labor shortages, the unionization of some of our associates, the price or unavailability of insurance and changes in government regulation could slow our growth or harm our business.

We are subject to a wide range of labor costs. Because our labor costs (particularly those in our center-of-the-plate businesses) are, as a percentage of revenues, higher than other industries, we may be significantly harmed by labor cost increases.

Our operations are dependent upon our experienced and sophisticated sales professionals, warehouse personnel and drivers, and, in our protein unit, on the experienced butchers we employ. Qualified individuals have historically been in short supply and an inability to attract and retain them may limit our ability to expand our operations in existing markets, as well as our ability to penetrate new markets. We can make no assurances that we will be able to attract and retain qualified individuals in the future. Additionally, the cost of attracting and retaining qualified individuals may be higher than we currently anticipate, and as a result, our profitability could decline. We are subject to the risk of employment-related litigation, which we believe increased as a result of our expansion in California resulting from the Del Monte acquisition and our large workforce in New York, at both the state and federal levels, including claims styled as class action lawsuits, which are more costly to defend. Also, some employment-related claims in the area of wage and hour disputes are not insurable risks.

Despite our efforts to control costs while still providing competitive healthcare benefits to our staff members, significant increases in healthcare costs continue to occur, and we can provide no assurance that our cost containment efforts in this area will be effective. Moreover, we are continuing to assess the impact of federal healthcare legislation on our healthcare benefit costs, and significant increases in such costs could adversely impact our operating results. There is no assurance that we will be able to pass through the costs of such legislation in a manner that will not adversely impact our operating results.

In addition, many of our delivery and warehouse personnel are hourly workers subject to various minimum wage requirements. Mandated increases in minimum wage levels have recently been and continue to be proposed and implemented at both federal and state government levels. Minimum wage increases may increase our labor costs.

We are also subject to the regulations of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement. Our failure to comply with federal and state labor laws and regulations, or our employees’ failure to meet federal citizenship or residency requirements, could result in a disruption in our work force, sanctions or fines against us as well as adverse publicity and additional cost.

As of December 30, 2016, we had 1,948 full-time employees, 210 of whom (approximately 10.8%) are represented by unions and are operating under a collective bargaining agreement and are represented by unions. We have in the past been the focus of union negotiating efforts, and it is likely that we will be the focus of similar efforts in the future.

As we increase our employee base and broaden our distribution operations to new geographic markets, including as a result of acquisitions, our increased visibility could result in increased or expanded union-organizing efforts or we may acquire businesses with unionized workforces. Two labor unions have been certified to represent bargaining units at our New York and Maryland facilities, and we have entered into a collective bargaining agreement with our union employees in New York and Maryland. Although we have not experienced a work stoppage to date, if we are unable to successfully negotiate union contracts, or renewals of existing contracts, if additional employees were to unionize or if we acquire additional businesses with unionized employees, we could be subject to work stoppages and increases in labor costs, either of which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.

We are subject to significant governmental regulation, and failure to comply could subject us to enforcement actions, recalls or other penalties, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.

Our business is highly regulated at the federal, state and local levels, and our specialty food products, meat, poultry and seafood products and distribution operations require various licenses, permits and approvals. For example:

the products we distribute in the United States are subject to regulation and inspection by the FDA and the USDA, and the products we distribute in Canada are subject to regulation by Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency;
our warehouse, distribution facilities, repackaging activities and other operations also are subject to regulation and inspection, as applicable, by the FDA, the USDA, Health Canada, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and state and provincial health authorities; and
our U.S. and Canadian trucking operations are subject to regulation by, as applicable, the U.S. Department of Transportation, the U.S. Federal Highway Administration, Transport Canada, the Surface Transportation Board and provincial transportation authorities.

25




Our suppliers are also subject to similar regulatory requirements and oversight. The failure to comply with applicable regulatory requirements could result in civil or criminal fines or penalties, product recalls, closure of facilities or operations, the loss or revocation of any existing licenses, permits or approvals or the failure to obtain additional licenses, permits or approvals in new jurisdictions where we intend to do business, any of which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.

In addition, as a distributor and repackager of specialty food products and meat, poultry and seafood products, we are subject to increasing governmental scrutiny of and public awareness regarding food safety and the manufacture, sale, packaging, storage and marketing of natural, organic and other food products. Compliance with these laws may impose a significant burden upon our operations. If we were to distribute foods that are or are perceived to be contaminated, or otherwise not in compliance with applicable laws, any resulting product recalls could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations. In January 2011, President Obama signed into law the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, which greatly expands the FDA’s authority over food safety, including giving the FDA power to order the recall of unsafe foods, increase inspections at food processing facilities, issue regulations regarding the sanitary transportation of food, enhance tracking and tracing requirements and order the detention of food that it has reason to believe is adulterated or misbranded, among other provisions. The FDA has taken a number of steps to implement the law, including, among others, the issuance of final regulations on preventive controls, produce safety, and foreign supplier verification programs to strengthen the oversight of imported foods. These actions have resulted in increased compliance costs that are likely to continue. We cannot assure investors in our common stock that these actions will not adversely impact us or others in our industry further, including suppliers of the products we sell, many of whom are small-scale producers who may be unable or unwilling to bear the expected increases in costs of compliance and as a result cease operations or seek to pass along these costs to us.

Additionally, concern over climate change, including the impact of global warming, has led to significant U.S. and international legislative and regulatory efforts to limit greenhouse gas, or GHG, emissions. Increased regulation regarding GHG emissions, especially diesel engine emissions, could impose substantial costs upon us. These costs include an increase in the cost of the fuel and other energy we purchase and capital costs associated with updating or replacing our vehicles prematurely.

Until the timing, scope and extent of such regulation becomes known, we cannot predict its effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations. It is reasonably possible, however, that such regulation could impose material costs on us which we may be unable to pass on to our customers.

Federal, state, provincial and local tax rules and trade policies in the United States and Canada may adversely impact our business, financial condition or results of operations.

We are subject to federal, state and local taxes in the United States, as well as federal, provincial and local taxes in Canada. Although we believe that our tax estimates are reasonable, if the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) or any other taxing authority disagrees with the positions we have taken on our tax returns, we could face additional tax liability, including interest and penalties. If material, payment of such additional amounts upon final adjudication of any disputes could have a material impact on our business, financial condition or results of operations.
In addition, the current U.S. presidential administration has proposed significant changes to U.S. trade policies and has prompted Congress to make significant changes to U.S. tax laws. The administration's proposals include a reduction in federal corporate income tax rates which could be favorable to our financial condition. Conversely, the administration's proposed renegotiation of existing U.S. trade agreements, including the North American Free Trade Agreement. On January 23, 2017, the U.S. announced its withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The uncertainty in the direction of U.S. trade policy could adversely impact our operations and profitability as a result of a border-tax on imports, an increase in customs duties, or a softening in the willingness of foreign enterprises to transact with businesses in the U.S. We cannot predict with certainty what additional polices the administration and Congress will enact. Moreover, the existing proposals may change, as a result of a variety of factors, including political, economic, or social events. None of these factors are under our control yet they may result in us adjusting our strategy to compete more effectively.
Complying with new tax rules, laws or regulations could impact our business, financial condition or results of operations, and increases to federal, provincial or state statutory tax rates and other changes in tax laws, rules or regulations may increase our effective tax rate. Any increase in our effective tax rate could have a material impact on our business, financial condition or results of operations.

The price of our common stock may be volatile and our stockholders could lose all or part of their investment.


26



Volatility in the market price of our common stock may prevent our stockholders from being able to sell their shares at or above the price the stockholders paid for their shares. The market price of our common stock could fluctuate significantly for various reasons, which include the following:

our quarterly or annual earnings or those of other companies in our industry;
changes in laws or regulations, or new interpretations or applications of laws and regulations, that are applicable to our business;
the public’s reaction to our press releases, our other public announcements and our filings with the SEC;
changes in accounting standards, policies, guidance, interpretations or principles;
additions or departures of our senior management personnel;
sales of common stock by our directors and executive officers;
adverse market reaction to any indebtedness we may incur or securities we may issue in the future;
actions by stockholders;
the level and quality of research analyst coverage for our common stock, changes in financial estimates or investment recommendations by securities analysts following our business or failure to meet such estimates;
the financial disclosure we may provide to the public, any changes in such disclosure or our failure to meet projections included in our public disclosure;
various market factors or perceived market factors, including rumors, whether or not correct, involving us, our customers, our distributors or suppliers or our competitors;
introductions of new products or new pricing policies by us or by our competitors;
acquisitions or strategic alliances by us or our competitors;
short sales, hedging and other derivative transactions in our common stock;
the operating and stock price performance of other companies that investors may deem comparable to us; and
other events or factors, including changes in general conditions in the United States and global economies or financial markets (including those resulting from acts of God, war, incidents of terrorism or responses to such events).

Concentration of ownership among our existing executive officers, directors and their affiliates may prevent new investors from influencing significant corporate decisions.

As of March 9, 2017, our executive officers, directors and their affiliates beneficially owned, in the aggregate, approximately 25.9% of our outstanding shares of common stock. In particular, Christopher Pappas, our president and chief executive officer, and John Pappas, our vice chairman, beneficially owned approximately 20.3% of our outstanding shares of common stock as of March 9, 2017. Additionally, upon the closing of our acquisition of Del Monte on April 6, 2015, the shareholders of Del Monte received approximately 1.1 million shares of our common stock, or 4.2% of our outstanding common stock as of March 9, 2017, as well as $36.75 million in convertible subordinated notes, which notes may be converted into shares of our common stock by such holders at any time at a per share price of $29.70. As a result of their significant individual ownership levels, these stockholders will be able to exercise a significant level of control over all matters requiring stockholder approval, including the election of directors, amendment of our certificate of incorporation and approval of significant corporate transactions. This control could have the effect of delaying or preventing a change of control of our company or changes in management and will make the approval of certain transactions difficult or impossible without the support of these stockholders.

If securities analysts or industry analysts downgrade our stock, publish negative research or reports or do not publish reports about our business, our stock price and trading volume could decline.

The trading market for our common stock will be influenced by the research and reports that industry or securities analysts publish about us, our business and our industry. If one or more analysts adversely change their recommendation regarding our stock or our competitors’ stock, our stock price may likely decline. If one or more analysts cease coverage of us or fail to regularly publish reports on us, we could lose visibility in the financial markets, which in turn could cause our stock price or trading volume to decline.

We do not intend to pay dividends for the foreseeable future and our stock may not appreciate in value.

We currently intend to retain our future earnings, if any, to finance the operation and growth of our business and do not expect to pay any cash dividends in the foreseeable future. As a result, the success of an investment in shares of our common stock will depend upon any future appreciation in its value. There is no guarantee that shares of our common stock will appreciate in value or that the price at which our stockholders have purchased their shares will be able to be maintained.


27



Our issuance of preferred stock or debt securities could adversely affect holders of our common stock and discourage a takeover.

Our board of directors is authorized to issue up to 5,000,000 shares of preferred stock without any action on the part of our stockholders. Our board of directors also has the power, without stockholder approval, to set the terms of any series of preferred stock that may be issued, including voting rights, dividend rights, preferences over our common stock with respect to dividends or in the event of a dissolution, liquidation or winding up and other terms. In the event that we issue preferred stock in the future that has preference over our common stock with respect to payment of dividends or upon our liquidation, dissolution or winding up, or if we issue preferred stock with voting rights that dilute the voting power of our common stock, the rights of the holders of our common stock or the market price of our common stock could be adversely affected. In addition, the ability of our board of directors to issue shares of preferred stock without any action on the part of our stockholders may impede a takeover of us and prevent a transaction favorable to our stockholders.

Additionally, in the future, we may need to raise additional funds or pay all, or a portion, of the acquisition price for a business we acquire through the issuance of new debt, including longer-term, fixed-rate debt. If we issue new debt securities, the debt holders may have rights senior to those of our common stockholders to make claims on our assets, and the terms of any debt could restrict our operations, including our ability to pay dividends on our common stock.

Some provisions of our charter documents and Delaware law may have anti-takeover effects that could discourage an acquisition of us by others, even if an acquisition would be beneficial to our stockholders, and may prevent attempts by our stockholders to replace or remove our current management.

Provisions in our certificate of incorporation and bylaws as well as provisions of the Delaware General Corporation Law could make it more difficult for a third party to acquire us or increase the cost of acquiring us, even if doing so would benefit our stockholders, including transactions in which stockholders might otherwise receive a premium for their shares. These provisions include:

authorizing the issuance of “blank check” preferred stock, the terms of which may be established and shares of which may be issued without stockholder approval;
prohibiting stockholder action by written consent, thereby requiring all stockholder actions to be taken at a meeting of our stockholders;
eliminating the ability of stockholders to call a special meeting of stockholders; and
establishing advance notice requirements for nominations for election to the board of directors or for proposing matters that can be acted upon at stockholder meetings.


28



Item 1B.     UNRESOLVED STAFF COMMENTS

None.

Item 2.     PROPERTIES

The following table sets forth the location, purpose and approximate size of our distribution and corporate facilities as of March 9, 2017:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Name/Location
 
Owned/Leased
 
Purpose
 
Approximate Size
(Sq. Feet)
Ridgefield, Connecticut
 
Leased
 
Corporate Headquarters
 
20,000

American Canyon, California
 
Leased
 
Processing Facility/Distribution Center
 
24,000

Brisbane, California
 
Leased
 
Processing Facility/Distribution Center
 
50,000

Bronx, New York
 
Leased
 
Distribution Center
 
231,140

Columbus, Ohio
 
Leased
 
Processing Facility/Distribution Center
 
61,900

Cincinnati, Ohio
 
Owned
 
Distribution Center
 
59,500

Chicago, Illinois
 
Owned
 
Processing Facility
 
14,000

Chicago, Illinois
 
Leased
 
Distribution Center
 
127,300

Hanover, Maryland
 
Leased
 
Distribution Center
 
56,000

Marina, California
 
Leased
 
Processing Facility/Distribution Center
 
21,000

Miami, Florida
 
Leased
 
Distribution Center
 
27,900

Oakland, California
 
Leased
 
Processing Facility/Distribution Center
 
10,000

Pompano Beach, Florida
 
Leased
 
Distribution Center
 
24,500

Los Angeles, California
 
Leased
 
Distribution Center
 
81,600

Downey, California
 
Leased
 
Distribution Center
 
40,300

Hayward, California
 
Leased
 
Distribution Center
 
40,000

San Francisco, California (1)
 
Leased
 
Distribution Center
 
117,500

San Francisco, California (2)
 
Leased
 
Processing Facility/Distribution Center
 
23,700

Las Vegas, Nevada
 
Leased
 
Distribution Center
 
74,000

Portland, Oregon
 
Leased
 
Distribution Center
 
46,500

Tempe, Arizona
 
Leased
 
Distribution Center
 
14,500

Seattle, Washington
 
Leased
 
Distribution Center
 
10,500

West Sacramento, California (1)
 
Leased
 
Processing Facility/Distribution Center
 
38,000

West Sacramento, California (2)
 
Leased
 
Maintenance Building
 
12,000

Richmond, BC, Canada
 
Leased
 
Distribution Center
 
24,900

Toronto, ON, Canada
 
Leased
 
Distribution Center
 
25,500

Edmonton, AB, Canada
 
Leased
 
Distribution Center
 
9,600

Total Square Feet
 
 
 
 
 
1,285,840


We consider our properties to be in good condition generally and believe our facilities are adequate for our operations and provide sufficient capacity to meet our anticipated requirements.


29



Item 3.     LEGAL PROCEEDINGS

From time to time, we are subject to various legal proceedings that arise from the normal course of business activities. If an unfavorable ruling were to occur, there exists the possibility of a material adverse impact on our results of operations, prospects, cash flows, financial position and brand. We are not currently aware of any pending or threatened legal proceeding against us that could have a material adverse effect on our business, operating results or financial condition.


Item 4.     MINE SAFETY DISCLOSURES

Not applicable.

30



PART II

Item 5.     MARKET FOR REGISTRANT’S COMMON EQUITY, RELATED STOCKHOLDER MATTERS AND ISSUER PURCHASES OF EQUITY SECURITIES

The Chefs’ Warehouse, Inc. Common Stock

Our common stock is publicly traded under the symbol “CHEF” on the NASDAQ Global Select Market. The following table sets forth the high and low sale prices for our common stock for the fiscal periods indicated as reported by the Nasdaq Stock Market during the indicated quarters.

 
 
Common Stock Price
 
 
High
 
Low
Fiscal Year Ended December 30, 2016
 
 

 
 

First Quarter
 
$
20.23

 
$
12.90

Second Quarter
 
$
20.34

 
$
14.82

Third Quarter
 
$
16.72

 
$
10.49

Fourth Quarter
 
$
16.15

 
$
10.80

 
 
 
 
 
Fiscal Year Ended December 25, 2015
 
 

 
 

First Quarter
 
$
24.09

 
$
19.57

Second Quarter
 
$
22.84

 
$
18.07

Third Quarter
 
$
21.61

 
$
13.39

Fourth Quarter
 
$
20.61

 
$
12.55


On March 9, 2017, the closing price of our common stock on the NASDAQ Global Select Market was $14.45 per share. As of March 9, 2017, there were 61 holders of record of our common stock. This does not include the number of persons whose stock is in nominee or “street” name accounts through brokers.

We have never paid a cash dividend on our common stock and do not anticipate paying any cash dividends on our common stock in the foreseeable future. Furthermore, we are prohibited from paying cash dividends under the terms of our senior secured credit facilities without the consent of the lenders thereunder.

Performance Graph

The following graph compares the cumulative total stockholder return on our common stock during the period from December 30, 2011 through December 30, 2016 with the cumulative total return on the NASDAQ Composite and the S&P Smallcap Food Distributor Index. The comparison assumes that $100 was invested on December 30, 2011 in our common stock and in each of the foregoing indices and assumes reinvestment of dividends, if any.

The following performance graph and related information shall not be deemed “soliciting material” or to be “filed” with the Securities and Exchange Commission, nor shall such information be incorporated by reference into any future filing under the Securities Act of 1933 or the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, each as amended, except to the extent that we specifically incorporate such information by reference into such filing.


31



COMPARISON OF 5 YEAR CUMULATIVE TOTAL RETURN
AMONG THE CHEFS’ WAREHOUSE, INC.
NASDAQ COMPOSITE INDEX AND THE S&P SMALLCAP FOOD DISTRIBUTOR INDEX

stockperformancegrapha02.jpg
Assumes $100 invested on December 30, 2011
 
 
December 30, 2011
 
December 28, 2012
 
December 27, 2013
 
December 26, 2014
 
December 25, 2015
 
December 30, 2016
The Chefs’ Warehouse, Inc.
 
$
100.00

 
$
86.23

 
$
163.16

 
$
123.35

 
$
97.26

 
$
90.43

NASDAQ Composite Index
 
$
100.00

 
$
113.63

 
$
159.55

 
$
184.51

 
$
193.79

 
$
208.51

S&P Smallcap Food Distributor Index
 
$
100.00

 
$
114.38

 
$
207.30

 
$
205.72

 
$
140.35

 
$
220.60


UNREGISTERED SALES OF EQUITY SECURITIES AND USE OF PROCEEDS
 
 
Total Number
of Shares
Repurchased(1)
 
Average
Price
Paid Per Share
 
Total
Number of Shares
Purchased as Part
of Publicly
Announced Plans
or Programs
 
Maximum
Number (or
Approximate
Dollar Value) of
Shares That May
Yet Be Purchased
Under the Plans
or Programs
September 24, 2016 to October 21, 2016
 
104

 
$
11.60

 

 

October 22, 2016 to November 18, 2016
 
56

 
11.65

 

 

November 19, 2016 to December 30, 2016
 
1,098

 
14.90

 

 

Total
 
1,258

 
$
14.48

 

 

 
(1)
During the fourteen weeks ended December 30, 2016, we withheld 1,258 shares of our common stock to satisfy tax withholding requirements upon the vesting of restricted shares of our common stock awarded to certain of our officers and key employees.

Equity Compensation Plan Information

See Part III, Item 12 for information regarding securities authorized for issuance under our equity compensation plans.


32



Item 6.     SELECTED FINANCIAL DATA

The selected consolidated financial data presented below as of the end of each of the fiscal years in the five-year period ended December 30, 2016 have been derived from our or our predecessor company’s audited consolidated financial statements. The data set forth below is qualified by reference to, and should be read in conjunction with our consolidated financial statements and their notes and “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” included elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. Our consolidated statement of operations for the year ended December 30, 2016 contained a 53rd week while all other years presented contained 52 weeks.

Acquisitions Affecting Comparability of Operating Results (amounts are presented in thousands)

The Company has made several acquisitions throughout the five-year period ended December 30, 2016. For acquisitions affecting the comparability of most recent three fiscal years, refer to the “Recent Acquisitions” section of “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” included elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. Acquisitions affecting comparability of the previous periods are described below.

On June 26, 2016, we acquired substantially all of the assets of M.T. Food Service, Inc. ("MT Food"), based in Chicago, Illinois. Founded in the mid-1990's, MT Food is a wholesale distributor of dairy, produce, specialty and grocery items in the metro Chicago area. The purchase price for the transaction was $21,500, of which, $21,000 was paid in cash at closing with an additional $500 payable 18 months after the closing date. The aggregate purchase price was paid through cash-on-hand and the proceeds from a draw down on our delayed draw term loan facility. The final purchase price is subject to a customary working capital true-up. We will also pay additional contingent consideration, if earned, in the form of an earn-out amount which totals $500 to MT Food; the payment of the earn-out liability is subject to certain conditions, including the successful achievement of Gross Profit targets for the MT Food entity during the period between the acquisition date and the date the MT Food operations are transferred to our existing Chicago facility, not to exceed one year.

On April 6, 2015, we acquired substantially all the equity interests of Del Monte Capitol Meat Co. and substantially all the assets of certain of its affiliated companies (collectively, “Del Monte”) for an aggregate purchase price of approximately $184,074. Founded in 1926, Del Monte supplies high quality, USDA inspected beef, pork, lamb, veal, poultry and seafood products to Northern California. The funding of the acquisition consisted of the following:

$123,893 in cash, which was funded with cash-on-hand, borrowings under the revolving credit facility portion of our senior secured credit facilities and the issuance of $25,000 of additional senior secured notes that bear interest at 5.80% per annum due on October 17, 2020;
approximately 1.1 million shares of our common stock (valued at $22.17 per share);
$36,750 in convertible subordinated notes issued to certain entities affiliated with Del Monte with a six-year maturity bearing interest at 2.50% with a conversion price of $29.70 per share; and
$1,258 offset received as an adjustment to the purchase price.

In addition, we have agreed to pay additional contingent consideration of up to $24,500 upon the successful achievement of Adjusted EBITDA targets for the Del Monte entities and improvements in certain operating metrics for our existing protein business and the business of any protein companies subsequently acquired by the Company over the six years following the closing.

On December 11, 2013, we acquired substantially all the assets of Allen Brothers, Inc. (and its subsidiaries) based in Chicago, Illinois. Founded in 1893, Allen Brothers is a leading processor and distributor of premium quality meats to nearly 400 of the nation’s finest restaurants, hotels, casinos and country clubs. In addition, Allen Brothers supplies many of those same high quality products to over 100,000 consumers through a direct mail and e-commerce platform. The total purchase price for the business is estimated to be approximately $30,670, which includes approximately $23,939 paid at closing with cash proceeds from our September 2013 common stock offering. The remaining $6,731 represents pension liabilities we assumed of $2,878 and earnout consideration of $6,000 to be paid upon the achievement of certain performance milestones over the next four years following the closing, offset by $2,147 received as an adjustment to the purchase price.

On May 1, 2013, we acquired 100% of the equity interests of Qzina Specialty Foods North America Inc. (“Qzina”), a British Columbia, Canada corporation based in Pompano Beach, Florida. Founded in 1982, Qzina is a leading supplier of gourmet chocolate, dessert and pastry products dedicated to the pastry professional. Qzina currently supplies more than 3,000 products to some of the finest restaurants, bakeries, patisseries, chocolatiers, hotels and cruise lines throughout the U.S. and Canada. The total purchase price paid for Qzina was $31,396, net of $578 cash and was funded with borrowings under the revolving credit





facility portion of our Amended and Restated Credit Agreement. In the third quarter of 2014, the Company received a settlement of $491 from the prior owners of Qzina directly related to disputes regarding the working capital adjustment.

On December 31, 2012, we acquired substantially all of the assets of Queensgate Foodservice (“Queensgate”), a foodservice distributor based in Cincinnati, Ohio. Queensgate strengthens our foothold in the Ohio Valley and provides a platform on which to leverage the Michael’s acquisition completed in August 2012. The purchase price paid for Queensgate at the closing was $21,934 and was funded with borrowings under the revolving credit facility portion of the Credit Agreement that we entered into in April 2012.

On August 10, 2012, the Company acquired 100% of the equity securities of Michael’s, a specialty protein distributor based in Columbus, Ohio. Michael’s distributes an extensive portfolio of custom cut beef, seafood and other center-of-the-plate products to many of the leading restaurants, country clubs, hotels and casinos in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Tennessee, Michigan, Kentucky, West Virginia and western Pennsylvania. The total purchase price for the business was approximately $53,509 and was funded with borrowings under the revolving credit facility portion of the Credit Agreement that we entered into in April 2012.

On April 27, 2012, we acquired 100% of the outstanding common stock of Praml International, Ltd. (“Praml”), a Nevada corporation. The purchase price paid to acquire Praml was approximately $19,500. We financed the purchase price paid for the outstanding common stock of Praml with borrowings under the revolving credit facility portion of the Credit Agreement we entered into in April 2012. Praml was a leading specialty foods importer and wholesale distributor located in Las Vegas, Nevada, which serviced the Las Vegas and Reno markets.

Consolidated Statement of Operations Data:

(Amounts presented in thousands, except for per share amounts)
 
 
FOR THE FISCAL YEARS ENDED
Statement of Operations Data:
 
December 30, 2016
 
December 25, 2015
 
December 26, 2014
 
December 27, 2013
 
December 28, 2012
Net sales
 
$
1,192,866

 
$
1,046,878

 
$
832,709

 
$
673,545

 
$
480,292

Cost of sales
 
891,649

 
778,167

 
627,551

 
501,181

 
355,288

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Gross profit
 
301,217

 
268,711

 
205,158

 
172,364

 
125,004

Operating expenses
 
253,978

 
228,311

 
172,148

 
135,783

 
96,237

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Operating income
 
47,239

 
40,400

 
33,010

 
36,581

 
28,767

Interest expense, net
 
41,632

 
12,984

 
8,167

 
7,775

 
3,674

(Gain) loss on sale of assets
 
(69
)
 
(295
)
 
(5
)
 
8

 
18

 
 


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Income before income taxes
 
5,676

 
27,711

 
24,848

 
28,798

 
25,075

Provision for income taxes
 
2,653

 
11,502

 
10,633

 
11,808

 
10,564

Net income
 
$
3,023

 
$
16,209

 
$
14,215

 
$
16,990

 
$
14,511

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Basic net income per share
 
$
0.12

 
$
0.63

 
$
0.58

 
$
0.78

 
$
0.70

Diluted net income per share
 
$
0.12

 
$
0.63

 
$
0.57

 
$
0.77

 
$
0.69

Weighted average common shares outstanding:
 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

Basic
 
25,919

 
25,532

 
24,638

 
21,767

 
20,612

Diluted
 
26,030

 
26,509

 
24,845

 
21,995

 
20,926

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Balance Sheet Data (at end of period)
 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

Cash and cash equivalents
 
$
32,862

 
$
2,454

 
$
3,328

 
$
20,014

 
$
118

Working capital
 
$
157,117

 
$
125,371

 
$
111,947

 
$
117,504

 
$
57,802

Total assets1
 
$
633,538

 
$
579,803

 
$
374,266

 
$
351,971

 
$
207,699

Long-term debt, net of current portion
 
$
317,725

 
$
267,349

 
$
135,800

 
$
140,847

 
$
119,352






Total liabilities 1
 
$
439,778

 
$
391,839

 
$
227,472

 
$
219,906

 
$
168,417

Total stockholders’ equity
 
$
193,760

 
$
187,964

 
$
146,794

 
$
132,065

 
$
39,282


1Total assets and liabilities were reclassified from amounts previously reported due to our adoption of ASU 2015-03 Simplifying the Presentation of Debt Issuance Costs and ASU 2015-17 Balance Sheet Classification of Deferred Taxes described in Note 2 of our consolidated financial statements.







Item 7.     MANAGEMENT’S DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS OF FINANCIAL CONDITION AND RESULTS OF OPERATIONS

The following discussion should be read in conjunction with information included in Item 8 of this report. Unless otherwise indicated, the terms “Company”, “Chefs’ Warehouse”, “we”, “us”, and “our” refer to The Chefs’ Warehouse, Inc. and its subsidiaries. All dollar amounts are in thousands except per share amounts.

Overview and Recent Developments

Overview

We are a premier distributor of specialty foods in eight of the leading culinary markets in the United States. We offer more than 43,000 SKUs, ranging from high-quality specialty foods and ingredients to basic ingredients and staples and center-of-the-plate proteins. We serve more than 28,000 customer locations, primarily located in our 15 geographic markets across the United States and Canada, and the majority of our customers are independent restaurants and fine dining establishments. As a result of our acquisition of Allen Brothers, we also sell certain of our center-of-the-plate products directly to consumers.

We believe several key differentiating factors of our business model have enabled us to execute our strategy consistently and profitably across our expanding customer base. These factors consist of a portfolio of distinctive and hard-to-find specialty food products, an extensive selection of center-of-the-plate proteins, a highly trained and motivated sales force, strong sourcing capabilities, a fully integrated warehouse management system, a highly sophisticated distribution and logistics platform and a focused, seasoned management team.

In recent years, our sales to existing and new customers have increased through the continued growth in demand for specialty food products and center-of-the-plate products in general; increased market share driven by our large percentage of sophisticated and experienced sales professionals, our high-quality customer service and our extensive breadth and depth of product offerings, including, as a result of our acquisitions of Michael’s in August 2012, Allen Brothers in December 2013 and Del Monte in April 2015, meat, seafood and other center-of-the-plate products, and, as a result of our acquisition of Qzina in May 2013, gourmet chocolate, pastries and dessert; the acquisition of other specialty food and center-of-the-plate distributors; the expansion of our existing distribution centers; our entry into new distribution centers, including the construction of a new distribution center in Chicago; and the import and sale of our proprietary brands. Through these efforts, we believe that we have been able to expand our customer base, enhance and diversify our product selections, broaden our geographic penetration and increase our market share. We believe that as a result of these efforts, we have increased sales from $400,632 in fiscal 2011 to $1,192,866 in fiscal 2016.

Recent Acquisitions

On June 26, 2016, we acquired substantially all of the assets of M.T. Food Service, Inc. ("MT Food"), based in Chicago, Illinois. Founded in the mid-1990's, MT Food is a wholesale distributor of dairy, produce, specialty and grocery items in the metro Chicago area. The purchase price for the transaction was $21,500, of which, $21,000 was paid in cash at closing with an additional $500 payable 18 months after the closing date. The aggregate purchase price was paid through cash-on-hand and the proceeds from a draw down on our delayed draw term loan facility. The final purchase price is subject to a customary working capital true-up. We will also pay additional contingent consideration, if earned, in the form of an earn-out amount which totals $500 to MT Food; the payment of the earn-out liability is subject to certain conditions, including the successful achievement of Gross Profit targets for the MT Food entity during the period between the acquisition date and the date the MT Food operations are transferred to our existing Chicago facility, not to exceed one year.

On April 6, 2015, we acquired substantially all the equity interests of Del Monte Capitol Meat Co. and substantially all the assets of certain of its affiliated companies (collectively, “Del Monte”) for an aggregate purchase price of approximately $184,074. Founded in 1926, Del Monte supplies high quality, USDA inspected beef, pork, lamb, veal, poultry and seafood products to Northern California. The funding of the acquisition consisted of the following:

$123,893 in cash, which was funded with cash-on-hand, borrowings under the revolving credit facility portion of our senior secured credit facilities and the issuance of $25,000 of additional senior secured notes that bear interest at 5.80% per annum due on October 17, 2020;
approximately 1.1 million shares of our common stock (valued at $22.17 per share);
$36,750 in convertible subordinated notes issued to certain entities affiliated with Del Monte with a six-year maturity bearing interest at 2.50% with a conversion price of $29.70 per share; and
$1,258 offset received as an adjustment to the purchase price.

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In addition, we have agreed to pay additional contingent consideration of up to $24,500 upon the successful achievement of Adjusted EBITDA targets for the Del Monte entities and improvements in certain operating metrics for our existing protein business and the business of any protein companies subsequently acquired by the Company over the six years following the closing.

On October 24, 2014, we acquired substantially all the assets of Euro Gourmet Inc. (“Euro Gourmet”), a wholesale specialty distributor based in Beltsville, Maryland. Founded in 1999, Euro Gourmet was a supplier of imported and domestic products. Euro Gourmet supplied more than 3,000 products to some of the finest restaurants, bakeries, patisseries, chocolatiers, hotels and cruise lines along the mid-Atlantic United States. The total purchase price for Euro Gourmet was approximately $2,063 at closing and was funded with cash from operations.

Debt Restructuring

On June 22, 2016, we refinanced our debt structure by entering into a new senior secured term loan. We used the proceeds to pay off our revolving credit facility of $96,400, our previous term loan of $1,681 and our senior secured notes of $125,000. We were required to pay the senior note holders make-whole payments totaling $21,144 for the early retirement of these notes. In addition, we wrote off deferred financing fees totaling $1,091 relating to the senior secured notes, term loan, and revolving credit facility. The refinancing met the requirements of a debt extinguishment for accounting purposes and the loss on extinguishment of debt of $22,310, inclusive of the make-whole payments and write-off of deferred financing fees, is reflected in interest expense.

Our Growth Strategies and Outlook

We continue to invest in our people, facilities and technology in an effort to achieve the following objectives and maintain our premier position within the specialty foodservice distribution market:

sales and service territory expansion;
operational excellence and high customer service levels;
expanded purchasing programs and improved buying power;
product innovation and new product category introduction;
operational efficiencies through system enhancements; and
operating expense reduction through the centralization of general and administrative functions.

Our growth has allowed us to improve upon our organization’s infrastructure, open new distribution facilities and pursue selective acquisitions. Over the last several years, we have increased our distribution capacity to approximately 1.3 million square feet in 24 distribution facilities at December 30, 2016. From the second half of fiscal 2013 through the end of fiscal 2016, we have invested significantly in acquisitions, infrastructure and management.

Key Factors Affecting Our Performance

Due to our focus on menu-driven independent restaurants, fine dining establishments, country clubs, hotels, caterers, culinary schools, bakeries, patisseries, chocolatiers, cruise lines, casinos and specialty food stores, our results of operations are materially impacted by the success of the food-away-from-home industry in the United States and Canada, which is materially impacted by general economic conditions, weather, discretionary spending levels and consumer confidence. When economic conditions deteriorate, our customers' businesses are negatively impacted as fewer people eat away-from-home and those who do spend less money. As economic conditions begin to improve, our customers’ businesses historically have likewise improved, which contributes to improvements in our business. Likewise, the direct-to-consumer business of our Allen Brothers subsidiary is significantly dependent on consumers’ discretionary spending habits, and weakness or uncertainty in the economy could lead to consumers buying less from Allen Brothers.

Volatile food costs may have a direct impact upon our profitability. Prolonged periods of product cost inflation may have a negative impact on our profit margins and results of operations to the extent we are unable to pass on all or a portion of such product cost increases to our customers. In addition, product cost inflation may negatively impact consumer discretionary spending decisions within our customers’ establishments, which could adversely impact our sales. Conversely, our profit levels may be negatively impacted during periods of product cost deflation even though our gross profit as a percentage of sales may remain relatively constant. However, some of our products, particularly certain of our protein items, are priced on a cost plus a dollar markup, which helps mitigate the negative impact of deflation.


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Given our wide selection of product categories, as well as the continuous introduction of new products, we can experience shifts in product sales mix that have an impact on net sales and gross profit margins. This mix shift is most significantly impacted by the introduction of new categories of products in markets that we have more recently entered, the shift in product mix resulting from acquisitions, as well as the continued growth in item penetration on higher velocity items such as dairy products.

The foodservice distribution industry is fragmented but consolidating, and we have supplemented our internal growth through selective strategic acquisitions. We believe that the consolidation trends in the foodservice distribution industry will continue to present acquisition opportunities for us, which may allow us to grow our business at a faster pace than we would otherwise be able to grow the business organically.

Performance Indicators

In addition to evaluating our income from operations, our management team analyzes our performance based on net sales growth, gross profit and gross profit margin.

Net sales growth. Our net sales growth is driven principally by changes in volume and, to a lesser degree, changes in price related to the impact of inflation in commodity prices and product mix. In particular, product cost inflation and deflation impacts our results of operations and, depending on the amount of inflation or deflation, such impact may be material. For example, inflation may increase the dollar value of our sales, and deflation may cause the dollar value of our sales to fall despite our unit sales remaining constant or growing.
Gross profit and gross profit margin. Our gross profit and gross profit as a percentage of net sales, or gross profit margin, are driven principally by changes in volume and fluctuations in food and commodity prices and our ability to pass on any price increases to our customers in an inflationary environment and maintain or increase gross profit margin when our costs decline. Our gross profit margin is also a function of the product mix of our net sales in any period. Given our wide selection of product categories, as well as the continuous introduction of new products, we can experience shifts in product sales mix that have an impact on net sales and gross profit margins. This mix shift is most significantly impacted by the introduction of new categories of products in markets that we have more recently entered, impact of product mix from acquisitions, as well as the continued growth in item penetration on higher velocity items such as dairy products.

Key Financial Definitions

Net sales. Net sales consist primarily of sales of specialty products, center-of-the-plate proteins and other food products to independently-owned restaurants and other high-end foodservice customers, which we report net of certain group discounts and customer sales incentives. Net sales also include sales by our Allen Brothers subsidiary that are direct-to-consumers.
Cost of sales. Cost of sales include the net purchase price paid for products sold, plus the cost of transportation necessary to bring the product to our distribution facilities. Our cost of sales may not be comparable to other similar companies within our industry that include all costs related to their distribution network and protein processing costs in their costs of sales rather than as operating expenses.
Operating expenses. Our operating expenses include warehousing, processing and distribution expenses (which include salaries and wages, employee benefits, facility and distribution fleet rental costs and other expenses related to warehousing, processing and delivery) and selling, general and administrative expenses (which include selling, insurance, administrative, wage and benefit expenses and share-based compensation expense).
Interest expense. Interest expense consists primarily of interest on our outstanding indebtedness and, as applicable, the amortization or write-off of deferred financing fees.

Critical Accounting Policies

The preparation of our consolidated financial statements requires us to make estimates and judgments that affect the reported amounts of assets, liabilities, revenues and expenses, and related disclosure of contingent assets and liabilities. The SEC has defined critical accounting policies as those that are both most important to the portrayal of our financial condition and results and require our most difficult, complex or subjective judgments or estimates. Based on this definition, we believe our critical accounting policies include the following: (i) determining our allowance for doubtful accounts, (ii) inventory valuation, with regard to determining our reserve for excess and obsolete inventory, (iii) valuing goodwill and intangible assets, (iv) vendor rebates and other promotional incentives, (v) self-insurance reserves, and (vi) accounting for income taxes and (vii) contingent earn-out liabilities. For all financial statement periods presented, there have been no material modifications to the application of these critical accounting policies.


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Allowance for Doubtful Accounts

We analyze customer creditworthiness, accounts receivable balances, payment history, payment terms and historical bad debt levels when evaluating the adequacy of our allowance for doubtful accounts. In instances where a reserve has been recorded for a particular customer, future sales to the customer are either conducted using cash-on-delivery terms or the account is closely monitored so that agreed-upon payments are received prior to orders being released. A failure to pay results in held or cancelled orders. We also estimate receivables that will ultimately be uncollectible based upon historical write-off experience. Our estimate could require change based on changing circumstances, including changes in the economy or in the particular circumstances of individual customers. Accordingly, we may be required to increase or decrease our allowance. Our accounts receivable balance was $128,030 and $124,139, net of the allowance for doubtful accounts of $6,848 and $5,803, as of December 30, 2016 and December 25, 2015, respectively.

Inventory Valuation

We maintain reserves for slow-moving and obsolete inventories. These reserves are primarily based upon inventory age plus specifically identified inventory items and overall economic conditions. A sudden and unexpected change in consumer preferences or change in overall economic conditions could result in a significant change in the reserve balance and could require a corresponding charge to earnings. We actively manage our inventory levels as we seek to minimize the risk of loss and have consistently achieved a relatively high level of inventory turnover.

Valuation of Goodwill and Intangible Assets

We are required to test goodwill for impairment at least annually and between annual tests if events occur or circumstances change that would more likely than not reduce the fair value of a reporting unit below its carrying amount. We have elected to perform our annual tests for indications of goodwill impairment during the fourth quarter of each fiscal year. We test for goodwill impairment at the reporting unit level, as we aggregate our component units into two reporting units, Protein and Specialty, based on a discounted cash flow approach. The goodwill impairment analysis is a two-step test. The first step, used to identify potential impairment, involves comparing our estimated fair value to our carrying value, including goodwill. If our estimated fair value exceeds our carrying value, goodwill is considered not to be impaired. If the carrying value exceeds estimated fair value, there is an indication of potential impairment and the second step is performed to measure the amount of impairment. If required, the second step involves calculating an implied fair value of our goodwill. The implied fair value of goodwill is determined in a manner similar to the amount of goodwill calculated in a business combination, by measuring the excess of the estimated fair value, as determined in the first step, over the aggregate estimated fair values of the individual assets, liabilities and identifiable intangibles as if we were being acquired in a business combination. If the implied fair value of our goodwill exceeds the carrying value of our goodwill, there is no impairment. If the carrying value of our goodwill exceeds the implied fair value of our goodwill, an impairment charge is recorded for the excess.

When analyzing whether to aggregate the business components into single reporting units, the Company considers whether each component has similar economic characteristics. The Company has evaluated the economic characteristics of its different geographic markets, including its recently acquired businesses, along with the similarity of the operations and margins, nature of the products, type of customer and methods of distribution of products and the regulatory environment in which the Company operates and concluded that the business components can be combined into two reporting units, Protein and Specialty.

As of December 30, 2016, our annual assessment indicated that we are not at risk of failing step one of the goodwill impairment test and no impairment of goodwill existed, as the fair value of each reporting unit exceeded their carrying value. Total goodwill as of December 30, 2016 and December 25, 2015 was $163,784 and $155,816, respectively.

Intangible assets with finite lives are tested for impairment whenever events or changes in circumstances indicate that the carrying value may not be recoverable. Cash flows expected to be generated by the related assets are estimated over the assets useful lives based on updated projections. If the evaluation indicates that the carrying amount of the asset may not be recoverable, the potential impairment is measured based on a projected discounted cash flow model. There have been no events or changes in circumstances during fiscal 2016 or 2015 indicating that the carrying value of our finite-lived intangible assets are not recoverable. Total finite-lived intangible assets as of December 30, 2016 and December 25, 2015 were $131,131 and $132,211, respectively.

The assessment of the recoverability of goodwill and intangible assets will be impacted if estimated future cash flows are not achieved.


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Vendor Rebates and Other Promotional Incentives

We participate in various rebate and promotional incentives with our suppliers, including volume and growth rebates, annual incentives and promotional programs. In accounting for vendor rebates, we follow the guidance in ASC 605-50 (Emerging Issues Task Force, or EITF, No. 02-16, Accounting by a Customer (Including a Reseller) for Certain Consideration Received from a Vendor and EITF No. 03-10, Application of Issue No. 02-16 by Resellers to Sales Incentives Offered to Consumers by Manufacturers).

We generally record consideration received under these incentives as a reduction of cost of goods sold; however, in certain circumstances, we record marketing-related consideration as a reduction of marketing costs incurred. We may receive consideration in the form of cash and/or invoice deductions.

We record consideration that we receive for volume and growth rebates and annual incentives as a reduction of cost of goods sold. We systematically and rationally allocate the consideration for those incentives to each of the underlying transactions that results in progress by us toward earning the incentives. If the incentives are not probable and reasonably estimable, we record the incentives as the underlying objectives or milestones are achieved. We record annual incentives when we earn them, generally over the agreement period. We record consideration received to promote and sell the suppliers’ products as a reduction of our costs, as the consideration is typically a reimbursement of costs incurred by us. If we received consideration from the suppliers in excess of our costs, we record any excess as a reduction of cost of goods sold.

Self-Insurance Reserves

Effective October 1, 2011, we began maintaining a self-insured group medical program. The program contains individual stop loss thresholds of $125 per incident and aggregate stop loss thresholds based upon the average number of employees enrolled in the program throughout the year. The amount in excess of the self-insured levels is fully insured by third party insurers. Liabilities associated with this program are estimated in part by considering historical claims experience and medical cost trends. Projections of future loss expenses are inherently uncertain because of the random nature of insurance claims occurrences and could be significantly affected if future occurrences and claims differ from these assumptions and historical trends.

Effective August 1, 2012, we became self-insured for workers’ compensation and automobile liability to deductibles or self-insured retentions of $350 for workers compensation and $250 for automobile liability per occurrence. The amounts in excess of our deductibles are fully insured by third party insurers. Liabilities associated with this program are estimated in part by considering historical claims experience and cost trends. Projections of future loss expenses are inherently uncertain because of the random nature of insurance claims occurrences and could be significantly affected if future occurrences and claims differ from these assumptions and historical trends.

Income Taxes

The determination of our provision for income taxes requires significant judgment, the use of estimates and the interpretation and application of complex tax laws. Our provision for income taxes primarily reflects a combination of income earned and taxed in the various U.S. federal and state jurisdictions. Jurisdictional tax law changes, increases or decreases in permanent differences between book and tax items, accruals or adjustments of accruals for unrecognized tax benefits, and our change in the mix of earnings from these taxing jurisdictions all affect the overall effective tax rate.

Contingent Earn-out Liabilities

We account for contingent consideration relating to business combinations as a liability and an increase to goodwill at the date of the acquisition and continually re-measure the liability at each balance sheet date by recording changes in the fair value through our Consolidated Statements of Operations. We determine the fair value of contingent consideration based on future operating projections under various potential scenarios, including the use of Monte Carlo simulations, and weight the probability of these outcomes. The ultimate settlement of contingent earn-out liabilities relating to business combinations may be for amounts which are materially different from the amounts initially recorded and may cause volatility in our results of operations.

Management has discussed the development and selection of these critical accounting policies with our board of directors, and the board of directors has reviewed the above disclosure. Our consolidated financial statements contain other items that require estimation, but are not as critical as those discussed above. These other items include our calculations for bonus accruals,

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depreciation and amortization. Changes in estimates and assumptions used in these and other items could have an effect on our consolidated financial statements.

Recent Accounting Pronouncements

See Note 2 "Summary of Significant Accounting Policies" to our consolidated financial statements for a full description of recent accounting pronouncements including the respective expected dates of adoption and expected effects on our consolidated financial statements.

Results of Operations
 
The following table presents, for the periods indicated, certain income and expense items expressed as a percentage of net sales:

 
 
FISCAL YEAR ENDED
 
 
December 30, 2016
 
December 25, 2015
 
December 26, 2014
Net sales
 
100.0
%
 
100.0
%
 
100.0
%
Cost of sales
 
74.7
%
 
74.3
%
 
75.4
%
Gross profit
 
25.3
%
 
25.7
%
 
24.6
%
Operating expenses
 
21.3
%
 
21.8
%
 
20.7
%
Operating income
 
4.0
%
 
3.9
%
 
4.0
%
Other expense (income):
 
 
 
 
 
 
Other expense
 
3.5
%
 
1.2
%
 
1.0
%
Income before income taxes
 
0.5
%
 
2.6
%
 
3.0
%
Provision for income taxes
 
0.2
%
 
1.1
%
 
1.3
%
Net income
 
0.3
%
 
1.5
%
 
1.7
%


Fiscal Year Ended December 30, 2016 compared to Fiscal Year Ended December 25, 2015

The fiscal year ended December 30, 2016 consisted of 53 weeks as compared to the fiscal year ended December 25, 2015, which consisted of 52 weeks.

Net Sales

Net sales for the fifty-three weeks ended December 30, 2016 increased approximately13.9% to $1,192,866 from $1,046,878 for the fifty-two weeks ended December 25, 2015. The increase in net sales was primarily the result of the Del Monte acquisition on April 6, 2015, the MT Food acquisition on June 27, 2016, the 53rd week in fiscal 2016 and organic sales growth. Del Monte contributed approximately $48,587, or 4.6%, MT Food contributed $31,630, or 3.0%, and the extra week in fiscal 2016 contributed approximately $24,051, or 2.3%, to net sales growth for fifty-three weeks ended December 30, 2016. Organic growth contributed the remaining approximately $41,720, or 4.0%, of total net sales growth. Internally calculated deflation was approximately 1.2% for the fiscal year ended December 30, 2016, driven largely by our protein division. Internally calculated inflation for fiscal 2015 was approximately 3.0%.
                                        
Gross Profit

Gross profit increased approximately 12.1% to $301,217 for the fifty-three weeks ended December 30, 2016 from $268,711 for the fifty-two weeks ended December 25, 2015 primarily due to the increased sales volumes discussed above. Gross profit margin decreased approximately 42 basis points to 25.3% in fiscal 2016 from 25.7% in fiscal 2015. This decrease in gross profit margin related to the higher mix of protein sales in fiscal 2016 due to the acquisition of Del Monte in the second quarter of 2015 and the relative performance of Del Monte and Allen Brothers during the period. Gross profit margins decreased approximately 34 basis points in the Company’s specialty division and 23 basis points in the protein division compared to margins in the fifty-two weeks ended December 25, 2015.


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Operating Expenses

Total operating expenses increased by approximately 11.2% to $253,978 for the fifty-three weeks ended December 30, 2016 from $228,311 for the fifty-two weeks ended December 25, 2015. As a percentage of net sales, operating expenses decreased 52 basis points to 21.3% for fiscal 2016 from 21.8% for fiscal 2015. The increase in our operating expenses is largely attributable to the acquisitions of Del Monte and MT Food which accounted for year-on-year increases of $12,219 and $5,155, respectively, higher warehousing and distribution costs of $4,612 and $3,405, respectively, due to increased sales levels, the impact of the 53rd week in fiscal 2016 of approximately $4,797 and increased amortization expense of $1,980, partially offset by the reduction in the fair value of earn-out obligations of $10,031 in 2016.

Operating Income

Operating income increased approximately 16.9% to $47,239 for the fifty-three weeks ended December 30, 2016 compared to $40,400 for the fifty-two weeks ended December 25, 2015. As a percentage of net sales, operating income was 4.0% in fiscal 2016 compared to 3.9% in fiscal 2015. The increase in operating income as a percentage of sales was driven primarily from the reduction in operating expenses as a percentage of sales discussed above.

Other Expense

Total other expense increased $28,874 to $41,563 for the fiscal year ended December 30, 2016, from $12,689 for the fiscal year ended December 25, 2015. This increase was primarily due to the refinancing of the Company’s debt on June 22, 2016. As part of the refinancing, the Company retired its previous revolving credit facility, term loan and senior secured notes. The Company was required to pay the senior note holders make-whole payments totaling $21,144 for the early retirement of these notes. In addition, the Company wrote off deferred financing fees totaling $1,091 relating to the senior secured notes, term loan, and revolving credit facility. This retirement was accounted for as a debt extinguishment and the loss on debt extinguishment of $22,310, inclusive of the make-whole payments and write-off of deferred financing fees is reflected in interest expense in the fifty-three weeks ended December 30, 2016. In addition, the Company had higher overall debt levels in fiscal 2016 as a result of financing the Del Monte acquisition in the second quarter of fiscal 2015.

Provision for Income Taxes

Our effective income tax rate was 46.7% and 41.5% for the fiscal years ended December 30, 2016 and December 25, 2015, respectively. The increase in effective tax rate in fiscal 2016 is due primarily to the impact of the debt extinguishment in fiscal 2016, which significantly reduced our taxable income and amplified the impacts of permanent differences on our effective tax rate. Adjusted to remove the impact of the debt extinguishment, our effective tax rate for fiscal 2016 was approximately 41.3%.

Net Income

Reflecting the factors described in more detail above, net income decreased $13,186 to $3,023 for the fiscal year ended December 30, 2016, compared to $16,209 for the fiscal year ended December 25, 2015.

Fiscal Year Ended December 25, 2015 compared to Fiscal Year Ended December 26, 2014

Net Sales

Net sales for the fifty-two weeks ended December 25, 2015 increased approximately 25.7% to $1,046,878 from $832,709 for the fifty-two weeks ended December 26, 2014. The increase in net sales was primarily the result of the acquisition of Del Monte, as well as organic sales growth. Acquisitions contributed approximately $174,432 or 20.9%, to net sales growth for the year. Organic growth contributed the remaining approximately $39,737, or 4.8%, of total net sales growth. Internally calculated inflation was approximately 3.0% for the year ended December 25, 2015, driven largely by certain protein and chocolate categories offset in part by deflation in the cheese, dairy and seafood categories. Internally calculated inflation for fiscal 2014 was approximately 5.9%.

Gross Profit

Gross profit increased approximately 31.0% to $268,711 for the fifty-two weeks ended December 25, 2015 from $205,158 for the fifty-two weeks ended December 26, 2014 primarily due to the increased sales volumes discussed above. Gross profit margin increased approximately 103 basis points to 25.7% in fiscal 2015 from 24.6% in fiscal 2015. The increase was due

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primarily to increased profit margins in our core specialty business and improved operating performance in our Allen Brothers subsidiary, which experienced significant cost pressure in fiscal 2014.

Operating Expenses

Total operating expenses increased by approximately 32.6% to $228,311 for the fifty-two weeks ended December 25, 2015 from $172,148 for the fifty-two weeks ended December 26, 2014 primarily due to the increased sales volumes discussed above. As a percentage of net sales, operating expenses increased 114 basis points to 21.8% for fiscal 2015 from 20.7% for fiscal 2014. The increase in our operating expense ratio is primarily attributable to $4,210 of amortization expense and $653 of non-cash accretion of contingent consideration related to the acquisition of Del Monte. Additionally, fiscal 2014 included a $1,500 gain related to a settlement with the former owners of Michael’s and the reversal of earn-out liabilities of $1,904 for our Queensgate and Allen Brothers acquisitions as the performance metrics applicable to these earn-out obligations were not achieved.

Operating Income

Operating income increased approximately 22.4% to $40,400 for the fifty-two weeks ended December 25, 2015 compared to $33,010 for the fifty-two weeks ended December 26, 2014. As a percentage of net sales, operating income was 3.9% in fiscal 2015 compared to 4.0% in fiscal 2014. The increase in operating income was primarily due to the increase in sales volume and gross profit margin, partially offset by the higher operating expenses as discussed above.

Other Expense

Total other expense increased $4,527 to $12,689 for the year ended December 25, 2015, from $8,162 for the year ended December 26, 2014. This increase can be attributed to increased interest expense due to higher levels of debt related to the financing of our acquisitions, offset in part by a $349 gain on the sale of one of our owned properties.

Provision for Income Taxes

Our effective income tax rate was 41.5% and 42.8% for the years ended December 25, 2015 and December 26, 2014, respectively. The decrease in effective tax rate from fiscal 2014 to fiscal 2015 is due primarily to the negative impact from a New York state tax audit for the years 2010 through 2012, which was reflected in fiscal 2014. Adjusted for the impact of the audit, our effective tax rate for fiscal 2014 was approximately 40.7%.

Net Income

Reflecting the factors described in more detail above, net income increased $1,994 to $16,209 for the fiscal year ended December 25, 2015, compared to $14,215 for the fiscal year ended December 26, 2014.

Liquidity and Capital Resources

We finance our day-to-day operations and growth primarily with cash flows from operations, borrowings under our senior secured credit facilities, operating leases, trade payables and bank indebtedness.

On June 22, 2016, the Company refinanced its debt structure by entering into a new senior secured term loan and asset based loan facility. The Company used the proceeds to pay off the revolving credit facility of $96,400, the previous term loan of $1,681 and the senior secured notes of $125,000. The revolving credit facility and previous term loan were originally due in April 2017. The senior secured notes had maturities of $50,000 in April 2018, $25,000 in October 2020 and $50,000 in April 2023. The Company was required to pay the senior note holders make-whole payments totaling $21,144 for the early retirement of these notes. In addition, the Company wrote off deferred financing fees totaling $1,091 relating to the senior secured notes, term loan, and revolving credit facility. The refinancing met the requirements of a debt extinguishment for accounting purposes and the loss on extinguishment of debt of $22,310, inclusive of the make-whole payments and write-off of deferred financing fees, is reflected in interest expense.

Senior Secured Term Loan Credit Facility

On June 22, 2016, Chefs’ Warehouse Parent, LLC (“CW Parent”) and Dairyland USA Corporation (“Dairyland”), as co-borrowers, and The Chefs’ Warehouse, Inc. (the “Company”) and certain other subsidiaries of the Company, as guarantors, entered into a credit agreement (the “Term Loan Credit Agreement”) with a group of lenders for which Jefferies Finance LLC

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(“Jefferies”) acts as administrative agent and collateral agent.  The Term Loan Credit Agreement provides for a senior secured term loan B facility (the “Term Loan Facility”) in an aggregate amount of $305,000,000 with a $50,000,000 six-month delayed draw term loan facility (the “DDTL”; the loans outstanding under the Term Loan Facility (including the DDTL), the “Term Loans”). Additionally, the Term Loan Facility includes an accordion which permits the Company to request that the lenders extend additional Term Loans in an aggregate principal amount of up to $50,000,000 (less the aggregate amount of certain indebtedness incurred to finance acquisitions) plus an unlimited amount subject to the Company’s Total Leverage Ratio not exceeding 4.90:1.00 on a pro forma basis. Borrowings under the Term Loan Facility were used to repay the Company’s senior secured notes, as well as the prior term loan and revolving credit facility. Remaining funds will be used for capital expenditures, permitted acquisitions, working capital and general corporate purposes of the Company. On June 27, 2016, the Company drew $14,000,000 from the DDTL to help pay for the MT Food acquisition. On September 14, 2016, the Company entered into an amendment to the Term Loan Credit Agreement under which the remaining portion of the DDTL was terminated, the Company’s interest rate schedule was modified and the Company repaid $25,000,000 of the outstanding balance of the Term Loans. The interest rate on this facility at December 30, 2016 was 6.75%.

The final maturity of the Term Loan Facility is June 22, 2022. Subject to adjustment for prepayments, the Company is required to make quarterly amortization payments on the Term Loans in an amount equal to 0.25% of the aggregate principal amount of the Term Loans.

The interest rates per annum applicable to Term Loans, will be, at the co-borrowers’ option, equal to either a base rate or an adjusted LIBO rate for one, two, three, six or (if consented to by the lenders) twelve-month interest periods chosen by the Company, in each case plus an applicable margin percentage. A commitment fee is payable in respect of the amount of the undrawn DDTL commitments during the period the DDTL is available, equal to a percentage equal to 50% of the interest rate with respect to Term Loans accruing interest based on the adjusted LIBO rate.

The Term Loan Facility contains customary affirmative covenants, negative covenants (including restrictions, subject to customary exceptions, on incurring debt or liens, paying dividends, repaying payment subordinated and junior lien debt, disposing assets, and making investments and acquisitions), and events of default for a term loan B facility of this type, as more particularly described in the Term Loan Credit Agreement.

As of December 30, 2016, the Company was in compliance with all debt covenants under the Term Loan Facility.

Asset Based Loan Facility

On June 22, 2016, the Company entered into a credit agreement (the “ABL Credit Agreement”) with a group of lenders for which JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A., acts as administrative agent and collateral agent. The ABL Credit Agreement provides for an asset based loan facility (the “ABL Facility”) in the aggregate amount of up to $75,000,000. Availability under the ABL Facility will be limited to a borrowing base consisting of the difference of (a) the lesser of: (i) the aggregate amount of commitments or (ii) the sum of specified percentages of eligible receivables and eligible inventory, minus certain availability reserves minus (b) outstanding borrowings. The co-borrowers under the ABL Facility are entitled on one or more occasions, subject to the satisfaction of certain conditions, to request an increase in the commitments under the ABL Facility in an aggregate principal amount of up to $25,000,000. The ABL Facility matures on June 22, 2021.

The interest rates per annum applicable to loans, other than swingline loans, under the ABL Credit Facility will be, at the co-borrowers’ option, equal to either a base rate or an adjusted LIBO rate for one, two, three, six or (if consented to by the lenders) twelve-month, interest periods chosen by the Company, in each case plus an applicable margin percentage. The Company will pay certain recurring fees with respect to the ABL Facility, including fees on the unused commitments of the lenders.
The ABL Facility contains customary affirmative covenants, negative covenants and events of default as more particularly described in the ABL Credit Agreement. The ABL Facility will require compliance with a minimum consolidated fixed charge coverage ratio of 1:1 if the amount of availability under the ABL Facility falls below a specified dollar amount or percentage of the borrowing base.

There were no outstanding balances under the ABL as of December 30, 2016. Borrowings under the ABL Facility will be used, and are expected to be used, for capital expenditures, permitted acquisitions, working capital and general corporate purposes of the Company. As of December 30, 2016, the Company was in compliance with all debt covenants and the Company had reserved $8,295,000 of the ABL facility for the issuance of letters of credit. As of December 30, 2016, funds totaling $66,705,000 were available for borrowing under the ABL facility.




44



New Markets Tax Credit Loan
 
On April 26, 2012, Dairyland HP LLC (“DHP”), an indirectly wholly-owned subsidiary of the Company, entered into a financing arrangement under the New Markets Tax Credit (“NMTC”) program under the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, pursuant to which a subsidiary of Chase, provided to DHP an $11,000 construction loan (the “NMTC Loan”) to help fund DHPs expansion and build-out of the Bronx, New York facility and the rail shed located at that facility, which construction is required under the facility lease agreement. Borrowings under the NMTC Loan are secured by a first priority secured lien on DHPs leasehold interest in the Bronx, New York facility, including all improvements made on the premises, as well as, among other things, a lien on all fixtures incorporated into the project improvements.
 
Under the NMTC Loan, DHP is obligated to pay (i) monthly interest payments on the principal balance then outstanding and (ii) the entire unpaid principal balance then due and owing on April 26, 2017. So long as DHP is not in default, interest accrues on borrowings at 1.00% per annum. The Company may prepay the NMTC Loan, in whole or in part, in $100,000 increments.
 
As of December 30, 2016, DHP was in compliance with all debt covenants under the NMTC Loan.
 
Convertible Subordinated Notes
 
On April 6, 2015, the Company issued $36,750 principal amount of convertible subordinated notes with a six-year maturity bearing interest at 2.5% and a conversion price of $29.70 per share (the “Convertible Subordinated Notes”) to certain of the Del Monte entities as partial consideration in the Del Monte acquisition. The holders of the Convertible Subordinated Notes may, in certain instances beginning one year after issuance, redeem the Convertible Subordinated Notes for cash or shares of the Company’s common stock. Moreover, the Company may pay the outstanding principal amount due and owing under the Convertible Subordinated Notes at maturity in either cash or shares of the Company’s common stock. The Convertible Subordinated Notes, which are subordinate to the Company’s and its subsidiaries’ senior debt, are convertible into shares of the Company’s common stock by the holders at any time at a conversion price of $29.70. 

Liquidity

Our capital expenditures, excluding cash paid for acquisitions, were approximately $16,623 for fiscal 2016 . We believe our capital expenditures, excluding cash paid for acquisitions, for fiscal 2017 will be approximately $9,900. The significant decrease in projected capital expenditures in fiscal 2017 as compared to fiscal 2016 is the result of the completion of the renovation and expansion of our new Bronx, NY and Las Vegas, NV distribution facilities. Recurring capital expenditures will be financed with cash generated from operations and borrowings under our ABL Facility. Our planned capital projects will provide both new and expanded facilities and improvements to our technology that we believe will produce increased efficiency and the capacity to continue to support the growth of our customer base. Future investments and acquisitions will be financed through either internally generated cash flow, borrowings under our senior secured credit facilities in place at the time of the potential investment or acquisition or through the issuance of equity or debt securities, including, but not limited to, longer-term, fixed-rate debt securities and shares of our common stock.

On June 26, 2016, the Company acquired substantially all of the assets of MT Food, based in Chicago, Illinois. Founded in the mid 1990's, MT Food is a wholesale distributor of dairy, produce, specialty and grocery items in the metro Chicago area. The purchase price for the transaction was $21,500, of which, $21,000 was paid in cash at closing with an additional $500 payable 18 months after the closing date.

In July 2015, we closed on a sale-leaseback transaction of our new Las Vegas, NV distribution facility. The property was sold for $14,645, which approximated its cost. The related on-going lease will be accounted for as an operating lease.

On April 6, 2015, we acquired substantially all the equity interests of Del Monte for an aggregate purchase price of approximately $184,074. The funding of the acquisition consisted of the following:

$123,893 in cash, which was funded with cash-on-hand, borrowings under the revolving credit facility portion of our senior secured credit facilities and the issuance of $25,000 of additional senior secured notes that bear interest at 5.80% per annum due on October 17, 2020;
approximately 1.1 million shares of our common stock (valued at $22.17 per share);
$36,750 in convertible subordinated notes issued to certain entities affiliated with Del Monte with a six-year maturity bearing interest at 2.50% with a conversion price of $29.70 per share; and
$1,258 offset received as an adjustment to the purchase price


45



In addition, we agreed to pay additional contingent consideration of up to $24,500 upon the successful achievement of Adjusted EBITDA targets for the Del Monte entities and improvements in certain operating metrics for our existing protein business and the business of any protein companies subsequently acquired by the Company over the six years following the closing.

Cash Flows

Net cash provided by operations was $38,914 for fiscal 2016, an increase of $1,187 from the $37,727 provided by operations for fiscal 2015. The primary reasons for the increase in net cash provided by operations were increased cash generated through net income from operations partially offset by cash used in working capital changes. During fiscal 2016 net income decreased by $13,186. The primary cause for this decrease in net income was a loss on extinguishment of debt of $22,310, partially offset by the related tax impact on the loss of approximately $9,281. Exclusive of the net impact of the loss on extinguishment, which is a cash flow from financing activities, net income from operations decreased by $157. Embedded within the net income from operations decrease, non-cash charges decreased by $2,809, representing an overall decrease of cash provided by operations through net income of $2,966. The primary cause for this decrease was the $10,031 fair-value adjustment to the Company’s Allen Brothers and Del Monte earn-out liabilities partially offset by the related tax impact of $4,172, organic growth as well as the cash generating impacts of the Del Monte and MT Food acquisitions. The decrease in cash provided by changes in working capital was primarily due to an increase in cash used for accounts payable changes of $16,292 and an increase in cash used for prepaid expenses and other current assets changes of $8,482 (exclusive of the tax impact of the loss on debt extinguishment, a financing activity), offset by increases in cash provided by inventory changes of $13,147 and accounts receivable changes of $8,552.

Net cash provided by operations was $37,727 for fiscal 2015, a increase of $27,930 from the $9,797 provided by operations for fiscal 2014. The primary reasons for the increase in net cash provided by operations were increased cash generated through net income and a decrease in cash used in working capital and other operating assets and liabilities. During fiscal 2015, net income increased by $1,994 and, embedded within the net income increase, non-cash charges increased by $13,223, representing an overall increase of cash provided through net income of $15,217. The primary cause for this increase is the organic growth of the Company as well as the cash generating impacts of the Del Monte acquisition, and to a lesser extent the Euro Gourmet acquisition. Offsetting these positive impacts were increased corporate costs, including higher interest and income tax payments. The decrease in cash used for working capital was due to decreases in cash used for accounts receivable of $10,277 and inventory of $4,700, an increase in cash provided from accounts payable of $4,607, offset by a decrease in cash provided by prepaids and other assets of $4,759. These improvements in working capital were due to a concerted effort by management to better control this area during these periods of high growth.

Net cash used in investing activities was $35,815 for fiscal 2016, a decrease of $93,485 from the net cash used in investing activities of $129,300 for fiscal 2015. The decrease in net cash used was primarily due to lower cash paid for acquisitions, resulting from the Del Monte acquisition in 2015 partially offset by the cash paid for the MT Food acquisition in 2016, and lower capital expenditures the result of completing construction of our Bronx, NY and Las Vegas, NV distribution facilities offset, in part, by the sale of one of our owned facilities in fiscal 2015.

Net cash used in investing activities was $129,300 for fiscal 2015, an increase of $105,627 from the net cash used in investing activities of $23,673 for fiscal 2014. The increase in net cash used primarily due to increased cash paid for acquisitions, net of cash received of $124,315, the result of the Del Monte acquisition, which was partially offset by reduced capital expenditures of $2,550, the result of completing construction of our Bronx, NY and Las Vegas, NV distribution facilities, and an increase in proceeds from asset disposals of $16,138, the result of the sale-leaseback of our Las Vegas, NV distribution facility and the sale of one other facility.

Net cash provided from financing activities was $27,235 in fiscal 2016, a decrease of $63,811 from the $91,046 provided from financing activities in fiscal 2015. This decrease primarily resulted from the debt issued in 2015 to pay for the Del Monte acquisition and payments made to pay off our revolving credit facility in fiscal 2016, the result of improved cash flow from operations and lower capital expenditures.

Net cash provided from financing activities was $91,046 in fiscal 2015, an increase of $93,744 from the $2,698 used in financing activities in fiscal 2014. This increase primarily resulted from the receipt of proceeds from our senior notes of $25,000 and the drawdown of $93,382 from of revolving credit facility to pay for the Del Monte acquisition. These proceeds were partially offset by increases in debt payments of $16,839 and use of restricted cash in fiscal 2014 of $5,578.





46



Commitments and Significant Contractual Obligations

The following table summarizes our contractual obligations and commercial commitments at December 30, 2016.
 
 
PAYMENTS DUE BY PERIOD (1)
 
 
TOTAL
 
LESS THAN
ONE YEAR
 
1-3
YEARS
 
4-5
YEARS
 
THEREAFTER
 
 
(In thousands)
Inventory purchase commitments
 
$
24,850

 
$
24,850

 
$

 
$

 
$

Indebtedness
 
$
340,552

 
$
11,587

 
$
8,195

 
$
44,256

 
$
276,514

Capital lease obligations and software financing
 
$
2,136

 
$
1,520

 
$
616

 
$

 
$

Pension exit liabilities
 
$
3,921

 
$
289

 
$
578

 
$
578

 
$
2,476

Long-term operating leases
 
$
117,071

 
$
16,416

 
$
28,392

 
$
23,900

 
$
48,363

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Total
 
$
488,530

 
$
54,662

 
$
37,781

 
$
68,734

 
$
327,353


(1)
Interest on our various outstanding debt instruments is included in the above table, except for our senior secured credit facility, which has a variable interest rate. At December 30, 2016, we had borrowings of $291.6 million under our senior secured credit facility. During the fiscal year ended December 30, 2016, the interest rate on our senior secured credit facility was 6.75% and we incurred interest expense of $8,351. See Note 9 “Debt Obligations” to our consolidated financial statements for further information.

A portion of the indebtedness obligations shown in the above table reflects the expiration of our Credit Facilities, not necessarily the underlying individual borrowings. In addition, cash to be paid for income taxes is excluded from the table above.

Until February 29, 2016, one of the Company’s subsidiaries, Dairyland USA Corporation, sublet office space in one of its distribution centers from TCW Leasing Co., LLC (“TCW”), an entity controlled by the Company’s founders. TCW leases the distribution center from the New York City Industrial Development Agency. In connection with this sublease arrangement and TCW’s obligations to its mortgage lender, Dairyland USA Corporation and two of the Company’s other subsidiaries initially were required to act as guarantors of TCW’s mortgage obligation on the distribution center. The mortgage payoff date is December 2029 and the potential obligation under this guarantee totaled $5,316 at December 30, 2016. By agreement dated July 1, 2005, the lender conditionally released all three of the Company’s subsidiaries from their guaranty obligations, provided the sublease between Dairyland USA Corporation and TCW remains in full force and effect. As of February 29, 2016, Dairyland exited the sublease arrangement with TCW, triggering the guarantee obligation. The Company believes that the fair value of the building securing the mortgage more than offsets any potential obligation. In addition, TCW is actively pursuing business strategies that upon completion will unconditionally and fully release the Company from any guaranty of TCW’s mortgage loan.

We had outstanding letters of credit of approximately $8,295 and $5,945 at December 30, 2016 and December 25, 2015, respectively.

Substantially all of our assets are pledged as collateral to secure our borrowings under our Credit Facilities.

Seasonality

Excluding our direct-to-consumer business, we generally do not experience any material seasonality. However, our sales and operating results may vary from quarter to quarter due to factors such as changes in our operating expenses, management’s ability to execute our operating and growth strategies, personnel changes, demand for our products, supply shortages, weather patterns and general economic conditions.

Our direct-to-consumer business is subject to seasonal fluctuations, with direct-to-consumer center-of-the-plate protein sales typically higher during the holiday season in our fourth quarter; accordingly, a disproportionate amount of operating cash flows from this portion of our business is generated by our direct-to-consumer business in the fourth quarter of our fiscal year.

47



Despite a significant portion of these sales occurring in the fourth quarter, there are operating expenses, principally advertising and promotional expenses, throughout the year.

Inflation

Our profitability is dependent on, among other things, our ability to anticipate and react to changes in the costs of key operating resources, including food and other raw materials, labor, energy and other supplies and services. Substantial increases in costs and expenses could impact our operating results to the extent that such increases cannot be passed along to our customers. The impact of inflation on food, labor, energy and occupancy costs can significantly affect the profitability of our operations.

Off-Balance Sheet Arrangements

As of December 30, 2016, we did not have any off-balance sheet arrangements, as defined in Item 303(a)(4)(ii) of Regulation S-K.

Item 7A.     QUANTITATIVE AND QUALITATIVE DISCLOSURES ABOUT MARKET RISK

Interest Rate Risk

On June 22, 2016, the Borrowers and the Guarantors entered into the Term Loan Agreement with the lenders from time to time party thereto, Jefferies, as Administrative Agent, and the other parties thereto. Also on June 22, 2016, the Borrowers and Guarantors entered into the ABL Credit Agreement. Each of the Term Loan Agreement and the ABL Credit Agreement, is described in more detail above under the caption “Liquidity and Capital Resources” in “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations.” Our primary market risks are related to fluctuations in interest rates related to borrowings under our current credit facilities.

As of December 30, 2016, we had an aggregate $291.6 million of indebtedness outstanding under the ABL Credit Facility and Term Loan Facility and $2.1 million million under a software financing agreement that bore interest at variable rates. A 100 basis point increase in market interest rates would decrease our after tax earnings by approximately $1,565 per annum, holding other variables constant.


48



Item 8.    CONSOLIDATED FINANCIAL STATEMENTS AND SUPPLEMENTARY DATA



49



Report of Independent Registered Public Accounting Firm
 
Board of Directors and Stockholders
The Chefs’ Warehouse, Inc.
Ridgefield, CT
 
We have audited the accompanying consolidated balance sheets of The Chefs’ Warehouse, Inc. as of December 30, 2016 and December 25, 2015 and the related consolidated statements of operations and comprehensive income, changes in stockholders’ equity, and cash flows for each of the three fiscal years in the period ended December 30, 2016. These consolidated financial statements are the responsibility of the Company’s management. Our responsibility is to express an opinion on these consolidated financial statements based on our audits.
 
We conducted our audits in accordance with the standards of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (United States). Those standards require that we plan and perform the audit to obtain reasonable assurance about whether the consolidated financial statements are free of material misstatement. An audit includes examining, on a test basis, evidence supporting the amounts and disclosures in the consolidated financial statements, assessing the accounting principles used and significant estimates made by management, as well as evaluating the overall presentation of the consolidated financial statements. We believe that our audits provide a reasonable basis for our opinion.
 
In our opinion, the consolidated financial statements referred to above present fairly, in all material respects, the financial position of The Chefs’ Warehouse, Inc. at December 25, 2015 and December 30, 2016, and the results of its operations and its cash flows for each of the three fiscal years in the period ended December 30, 2016, in conformity with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America.
 
As discussed in Note 1 to the financial statements, in 2016 the Company changed its method of accounting related to the classification of deferred income taxes due to the adoption of Accounting Standards Update No. 2015-17 (Topic 740), Balance Sheet Classification of Deferred Taxes and the Company changed its method of accounting related to its method for presenting debt issuance costs  due to the adoption of Accounting Standards Update No. 2015-13 (Subtopic 835-30), Simplifying the Presentation of Debt Issuance Costs.

We also have audited, in accordance with the standards of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (United States), The Chefs’ Warehouse, Inc.’s internal control over financial reporting as of December 30, 2016, based on criteria established in Internal Control – Integrated Framework (2013) issued by the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission (COSO) and our report dated March 10, 2017 expressed an unqualified opinion thereon.
 
/s/ BDO USA, LLP
 
Stamford, CT
March 10, 2017


50



THE CHEFS’ WAREHOUSE, INC.
CONSOLIDATED BALANCE SHEETS 
(Amounts in thousands, except share data)
 
December 30,
2016
 
December 25,
2015
ASSETS
 

 
 

Current assets:
 

 
 

Cash and cash equivalents
$
32,862

 
$
2,454

Accounts receivable, net of allowance of $6,848 in 2016 and $5,803 in 2015
128,030

 
124,139

Inventories, net
87,498

 
92,758

Prepaid expenses and other current assets
16,101

 
9,164

Total current assets
264,491

 
228,515

 
 
 
 
Equipment and leasehold improvements, net
62,183

 
54,283

Software costs, net
5,927

 
4,511

Goodwill
163,784

 
155,816

Intangible assets, net
131,131

 
132,211

Other assets
6,022

 
4,467

Total assets
$
633,538

 
$
579,803

 
 
 
 
LIABILITIES AND STOCKHOLDERS’ EQUITY
 

 
 

Current liabilities:
 

 
 

Accounts payable
$
65,514

 
$
64,888

Accrued liabilities
17,546

 
24,258

Accrued compensation
9,519

 
7,732

Current portion of long-term debt
14,795

 
6,266

Total current liabilities
107,374

 
103,144

 
 
 
 
Long-term debt, net of current portion
317,725

 
267,349

Deferred taxes, net
6,958

 
4,060

Other liabilities and deferred credits
7,721

 
17,286

Total liabilities
439,778

 
391,839

 
 
 
 
Commitments and contingencies


 


 
 
 
 
Stockholders’ equity:
 

 
 

Preferred Stock - $0.01 par value, 5,000,000 shares authorized, no shares issued and outstanding at December 30, 2016 and December 25, 2015

 

Common Stock - $0.01 par value, 100,000,000 shares authorized, 26,280,469 and 26,290,675 shares issued and outstanding at December 30, 2016 and December 25, 2015, respectively
263

 
263

Additional paid in capital
127,180

 
125,170

Accumulated other comprehensive loss
(2,186
)
 
(2,949
)
Retained earnings
68,503

 
65,480

Total stockholders’ equity
193,760

 
187,964

Total liabilities and stockholders’ equity
$
633,538

 
$
579,803

 
See accompanying notes to the consolidated financial statements.

51



THE CHEFS’ WAREHOUSE, INC.
CONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OF OPERATIONS AND COMPREHENSIVE INCOME
(Amounts in thousands, except share and per share amounts)
 
Fiscal Years Ended
 
December 30,
2016
 
December 25, 2015
 
December 26,
2014
Net sales
$
1,192,866

 
$
1,046,878

 
$
832,709

Cost of sales
891,649

 
778,167

 
627,551

Gross profit
301,217

 
268,711

 
205,158

Operating expenses
253,978

 
228,311

 
172,148

Operating income
47,239

 
40,400

 
33,010

Interest expense
41,632

 
12,984

 
8,167

Gain on sale of assets
(69
)
 
(295
)
 
(5
)
Income before income taxes
5,676

 
27,711

 
24,848

Provision for income taxes
2,653

 
11,502

 
10,633

Net income
$
3,023

 
$
16,209

 
$
14,215

Other comprehensive income:
 

 
 

 
 

Foreign currency translation adjustments
763

 
(2,256
)
 
(479
)
Comprehensive income
$
3,786

 
$
13,953

 
$
13,736

Net income per share:
 

 
 

 
 

Basic
$
0.12

 
$
0.63

 
$
0.58

Diluted
$
0.12

 
$
0.63

 
$
0.57

Weighted average common shares outstanding:
 
 
 

 
 

Basic
25,919,480

 
25,532,172

 
24,638,135

Diluted
26,029,609

 
26,508,994

 
24,844,565

 
See accompanying notes to the consolidated financial statements.

52



THE CHEFS’ WAREHOUSE, INC.
CONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OF CHANGES IN STOCKHOLDERS’ EQUITY
For the Fiscal Years Ended December 30, 2016, December 25, 2015 and December 26, 2014
(Amounts in thousands, except share amounts)
 
Common Stock
 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

 
Shares
 
Amount
 
Additional
Paid in
Capital
 
Accumulated
Other
Comprehensive
Loss
 
 
Retained
Earnings
 
Total
Balance December 27, 2013
25,032,216

 
$
250

 
$
96,973

 
$
(214
)
 
$
35,056

 
$
132,065

Net income

 

 

 

 
14,215

 
14,215

Stock compensation
21,008

 

 
1,374

 

 

 
1,374

Excess tax benefits on stock compensation

 

 
110

 

 

 
110

Cumulative translation adjustment

 

 

 
(479
)
 

 
(479
)
Shares surrendered to pay withholding taxes
(21,957
)
 

 
(491
)
 

 

 
(491
)
Balance December 26, 2014
25,031,267

 
$
250

 
$
97,966

 
$
(693
)
 
$
49,271

 
$
146,794

Net income

 

 

 

 
16,209

 
16,209

Stock compensation
196,950

 
2

 
3,537

 

 

 
3,539

Shares issued for Del Monte acquisition
1,113,636

 
11

 
24,678

 

 

 
24,689

Excess tax benefits on stock compensation

 

 
81

 

 

 
81

Cumulative translation adjustment

 

 

 
(2,256
)
 

 
(2,256
)
Shares surrendered to pay withholding taxes
(51,178
)
 

 
(1,092
)
 

 

 
(1,092
)
Balance December 25, 2015
26,290,675

 
$
263

 
$
125,170

 
$
(2,949
)
 
$
65,480

 
$
187,964

Net income

 

 

 

 
3,023

 
3,023

Stock compensation
25,895