Industrials

Brooke Sutherland is a Bloomberg Gadfly columnist covering deals and industrial companies. She previously wrote an M&A column for Bloomberg News.

Books and kale and plumbing -- oh my! As Amazon.com Inc. barges its way into the grocery industry with the $13.7 billion purchase of Whole Foods Market Inc., it's also expanding aggressively in business-to-business sales. Hawking the equipment that companies need to manufacture goods or stock their break rooms sounds boring, but Forrester Research estimates it will be an $8 trillion industry in the U.S. this year. And Amazon is quickly grabbing a decent chunk of that. While traditional distributors of industrial odds and ends such as W.W. Grainger Inc. are trying to stay competitive, it's coming at the expense of profits, and their stocks are taking a hit. Just as in retail and likely soon in groceries, the business models that worked in the past aren't going to cut it anymore. 

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To contact the author of this story:
Brooke Sutherland in New York at bsutherland7@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Beth Williams at bewilliams@bloomberg.net