Houchens Industries

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Houchens Industries, Inc.
Private/Employee Owned
IndustryGrocery Store, Insurance and Web Development
HeadquartersBowling Green, Kentucky, United States
Key people
Jimmie Gipson, CEO
Gordon Minter, CFO
Ervin Houchens, founder
RevenueIncrease US$2.36 Billion (FY 2005)[1]
Number of employees
11,487 (2007)

Houchens Industries is an American employee-owned company, in business since 1918 when it began as a small grocery operated by founder Ervin Houchens in rural Barren County, Kentucky. The company is headquartered in Bowling Green, Kentucky. The company runs about 425 grocery and convenience stores. Sales in 2006 were just under $2 billion,[2] with approximately 10,500 employees.

Houchens Industries Corporate Office.


The company is best known as a grocer, owning and operating convenience stores (Jr. Food Stores, Tobacco Shoppe) and supermarkets (Houchens Markets, IGA, Save-A-Lot, Mad Butcher and most recently Price Less Foods/Price Less IGA). In 2004, Houchens acquired Food Giant supermarkets, which operates stores under the Food Giant, Market Place and Piggly Wiggly name.[3]

In recent years, Houchens Industries has diversified greatly, with acquisitions of a Bowling Green-based construction company, as well as recycling, insurance, cigarette manufacturing, and warehousing.

Price Less Foods/Price Less IGA is the newest brand of stores to join Houchens.

Price Less Foods and Price Less IGA[edit]

Price Less Foods and Price Less IGA are a chain supermarkets located in Alabama, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Tennessee and Virginia. They operate on a cost-plus format. They price their products at the cost and then add 10 percent to the final cost at the checkout. They do not have rewards cards or weekly sales ads.

The only difference between Price Less Foods and Price Less IGA is that "Foods" does not sell IGA brand products. They sell Best Choice and Always Save brands as well as other top national brands. They currently have 28 locations, and are expanding.[4]


Houchens first store

The company traces its beginnings to 1917, when founder Ervin Houchens opened his first store ("BG Wholesale") at the age of 19 in a shed in southern Kentucky. This shed, along with other historical structures, has been well preserved and is open to the public. He sold the company in 1983.[2] The current CEO, Jimmie Gipson, started with the company in 1965, as an accountant.[2]

In 2004, Houchens acquired Hitcents, an Internet marketing and development company founded by two high school students from Bowling Green, and now headquartered at Hitcents Park Plaza in Downtown Bowling Green.

In 2007, the company sold its Commonwealth Brands subsidiary, the fourth-largest cigarette producer in the United States, to the British company Imperial Tobacco Group PLC for $1.9 billion. It had acquired the company from its founder Brad Kelley in 2001; it was the first time that Houchens had sold one of its acquisitions.[2]

Diversification continued in 2007 when Houchens announced that it would acquire Hilliard Lyons, a full-service stock broker and investment firm based in Louisville, from PNC Financial Services.[5] The sale was completed in March 2008.[6]

In January 2008, Houchens announced that it would acquire 14 convenience stores which sell Shell Oil products from Bowling Green businessman Jerry Browning. The stores are located in Bowling Green and surrounding towns.[7]

In April 2008, Buehler Foods of Jasper, Indiana, signed a letter of intent to sell the company to Houchens.[8]

In July 2008, Houchens acquired juice maker Tampico Beverages.[9]

In January 2010, White's Fresh Foods, in the Tri-Cities, Tennessee area sold their local grocery chain to Houchens.[10]



  1. ^ Forbes Largest Private Companies: #140 Houchens Industries Retrieved on November 16, 2007.
  2. ^ a b c d e Bruce Schreiner, "Houchens expanding at a rapid pace: Company has evolved since Kentucky start", Associated Press, December 24, 2007
  3. ^ "Acquisition doesn't include Franklin Piggly Wiggly", Franklin Favorite (newspaper), April 29, 2004
  4. ^ http://www.mypricelessfoods.com/mypricelessfoods.com
  5. ^ "Hilliard Lyons sold to Bowling Green firm". The Courier-Journal. 2007-11-16.
  6. ^ "Hilliard Lyons sale completed". The Courier-Journal. 2008-03-31.
  7. ^ Catawayo, Ameerah (2008-01-29). "Houchens set to buy Browning". Park City Daily News.
  8. ^ "Local grocery chain sold". 14 WFIE. 2008-04-24.
  9. ^ Houchens Acquires Tampico Beverages
  10. ^ Jackson, George (2009-01-19). "Houchens Industries Acquires White's Fresh Foods". Tricities.com. Archived from the original on 2012-09-13.

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