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Top 25 Retailers 2009

July 16, 2009
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PL Buyer takes its annual look at the top 25 supermarket, mass merchandise and drugstore retailers in the United States and Canada.

You likely won’t notice many major changes between this year’s and last year’s Top 25 lists of leading U.S. and Canadian grocers, drugstores and mass merchandisers. Sure, a couple of retailers swapped spots this year (Costco and Target, and Rite Aid and Loblaw, for example). One retailer on 2008’s list - Family Dollar Stores - fell off of this year’s list (but just barely). Another (A&P) is new to the list. But all in all, the changes were minor, thanks largely to the absence of any really significant acquisitions beyond CVS’ purchase of the Longs Drug Store locations.

The top three retailers (Walmart, CVS/Caremark and Kroger) seem almost untouchable, while some other giants come oh-so-close in terms of sales (Supervalu and Safeway, and Giant Eagle and Whole Foods, for example).

A couple observations:

• Many of the companies listed here reported based on a 53-week fiscal 2008, which slightly skewed the comparison to a 52-week fiscal 2007.

• Trader Joe’s and ALDI Inc. came very close to making this year’s list - and if their strong growth continues, they just might find a place on next year’s list.

Although it’s impossible to sum up more than a year’s worth of news within the pages that follow, we do attempt to deliver the financial, private label and other news highlights. (Ditto with the store brand listings - we’ve limited our listings to 10 for each retailer, recognizing, of course, that some of the Top 25 boast many more private labels than that.

1. Wal-Mart Stores Inc.


Web site: www.walmart.com

Sales: $401.2 billion

Retail Banners: Walmart, Walmart Supercenter, Walmart Neighborhood Market, Sam’s Club

No. of Stores: More than 4,100 in the United States; 318 in Canada; more than 7,200 worldwide

No. of Employees: More than 1.4 million in the United States; more than 77,000 in Canada; more than 2 million worldwide

Key Personnel: S. Robson Walton, Chairman; Michael Duke, President and CEO

The News: Walmart recently announced personnel changes at the very top. In February 2009, Mike Duke, formerly vice chairman of the company’s international division, became Walmart’s president and CEO. Duke replaced Lee Scott, who will continue as chairman of the executive committee of the board until January 2011. And this past May, Walmart named Brian Cornell, who most recently served as CEO of Michael’s Stores Inc., as president and CEO of its Sam’s Club operation. Cornell replaced Doug McMillon, who was named president and CEO of Walmart International.

Walmart had a strong 2008 (fiscal 2009, ending Jan. 31, 2009), thanks to what Duke called its “strong value messaging in every merchandise category,” reporting a 7.2 percent increase in sales over the previous year. And the retailer is on track to perform well in fiscal 2010. Although the company reported fiscal 2010 first-quarter net sales of $93 billion, slightly below the previous year’s first-quarter figures (due to “a negative impact from the valuation of many currencies against the U.S. dollar”), it posted a 3.7 percent increase in total U.S. comparable-store sales for Walmart and Sam’s Club (without fuel).

But perhaps the biggest news comes from the store brand side of operations. Walmart recently embarked on an expansion and enhancement of its Great Value brand in the United States. In a March 16 press release, the retailer said the new and revamped products would boast improved quality, consumer-friendly packaging and more.

Walmart said it worked with several hundred suppliers to test more than 5,250 products against the leading national brands to ensure national brand quality or better. The expansion/enhancement involved formula changes for 750 items, including breakfast cereal, cookies, yogurt, laundry detergent and paper towels. The new products began appearing on shelves in March, Walmart said.

Store Brands: Canopy, Equate, Faded Glory, Great Value, Home Trends, Mainstays, No Boundaries, Ol’ Roy, Sam’s Choice, Simply Basic, and more


2. CVS Caremark Corp.

Web sites: www.cvs.com, www.cvscaremark.com

Sales: $87.5 billion

Retail Banner: CVS/pharmacy

No. of Stores: 6,923 in 41 states

No. of Employees: 215,000 (retail and non-retail total)

Key Personnel: Thomas M. Ryan, Chairman, President and CEO; Larry J. Merlo, Executive Vice President and President of CVS/pharmacy – Retail

The News: CVS Caremark Corp. announced record revenues, operating profit and earnings for fiscal 2008 (ending Dec. 31, 2008). The company said same-store sales in the retail drugstore segment increased 4.5 percent for the year.

CVS Caremark also is looking strong for 2009. Revenues in the retail pharmacy segment increased 13.9 percent to reach $13.5 billion in the first quarter of 2009, the company said. And same-store sales increased 3.3 percent over the prior year period.

But the company’s most significant retail news for 2008 was the acquisition of 529 Longs Drug Store Corp. retail stores. As of Dec. 31, 2008, CVS Caremark said it operated 6,923 retail pharmacy stores, 58 specialty pharmacy stores, 19 specialty mail order pharmacies and seven mail order pharmacies in 44 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico.

In other news, CVS/pharmacy announced the launch of the Beauty 360 store concept in November 2008. The company said the concept, implemented in select stores, offers “an upscale shopping destination for the multifaceted, time-starved woman.” Beauty 360 emphasizes service and features a wide range of prestige and niche beauty brands, including the retailer’s exclusive 24.7 label.

Also new for 2008 was the Cristophe Beverly Hills “Curl Defining” line, introduced in conjunction with Cristophe, the celebrity hairstylist and salon owner. Formulated to “intensify and maximize style potential,” the line represents another CVS/pharmacy exclusive. And CVS added 200 private label products during the first quarter of 2009, according to the Private Label Manufacturers Association, New York.

Store Brands: CVS, Christophe, Essence of Beauty, Fitness, Golden Emblem, Life Fitness, Lumene, Playskool Baby Care, Skin Effects by Dr. Jeffrey Dover, 24.7 and more


3. The Kroger Co.

Web sites: www.kroger.com, www.thekrogerco.com

Sales: $76.0 billion

Supermarket Banners: Baker’s, City Market, Dillons, Fry’s, Gerbes, Hilander, Jay C Food Stores, King Soopers, Kroger, Kroger Fresh Fare, Owen’s, Pay Less Super Markets, Quality Food Centers, Ralphs, Scott’s Food & Pharmacy, Smith’s Food & Drug Stores

Price-Impact Warehouse Banners: Food 4 Less, Foods Co.

Convenience Banners: Kwik Shop, Loaf ‘N Jug, Turkey Hill, Quik Stop, Tom Thumb

Multidepartment/Marketplace Banners: Dillons Marketplace, Fred Meyer, Fry’s Marketplace, Kroger Marketplace, Smith’s Marketplace

No. of Stores: 2,481 grocery retail stores in 31 states; 771 convenience stores in five states

No. of Employees: 326,000

Key Personnel: David B. Dillon, Chairman and CEO; Rodney McMullen, Vice Chairman; Don W. McGeorge, President, Chief Operating Officer and Director

The News: Kroger reported an 8.2 percent increase in sales in fiscal 2008 (ending Jan. 31, 2009) over fiscal 2007, to reach $76.0 billion. The retailer noted that approximately 26 percent of its fourth quarter 2008 grocery revenue came from sales of its exclusive Kroger brands - and that Kroger brands (numbering more than 14,400 items) reached a record 34 percent of grocery unit sales.

Although all three tiers of its store brand portfolio experienced strong growth during the fourth quarter, Kroger said growth was exceptionally strong for its Value and Private Selection tiers. In fact, the company said Private Selection sales exceeded $1 billion in 2008.

Among Kroger’s recent new product launches is a beefed-up meat lineup: U.S.D.A. Choice Private Selection Angus beef, Private Selection Natural Beef and Pork, and Private Selection Organic Beef and Chicken.

In other news, the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) recognized the Kroger Manufacturing division in 2008 for outstanding worker safety performance. Kroger said it received six Worker Safety Awards from IDFA for its dairy plants in Atlanta, Ga.; Livonia, Mich., Crawfordsville, Ind.; Riverside, Calif.; Fort Worth, Texas; and Lynchburg, Va.

Store Brands: Active Lifestyle, Comforts, Everyday Living, HD Design, Kroger, Kroger Value, Naturally Preferred, Office Works, Pet Pride, Private Selection, various store banner brands and more


4. Costco Wholesale Corp.

Web site: www.costco.com

Sales: $71.0 billion

Retail Banner: Costco Wholesale

No. of Stores: 406 in the U.S. and Puerto Rico; 76 in Canada; 553 total worldwide

No. of Employees: 104,000 in the U.S.; 142,000 worldwide

Key Personnel: Jeffrey H. Brotman, Chairman; James D. Sinegal, President and CEO

The News: Costco enjoyed a strong fiscal 2008, reporting that its U.S. productivity per location went from $132 million in 2007 to $138 million in 2008. In an Aug. 21, 2008, conference call, Richard Galanti, chief financial officer, executive vice president and director, also noted Costco had seen “a small tick up” in terms of private label sales.

Speaking of private label, Costco’s Kirkland Signature Environmentally Friendly cleaning product line was honored as one of the winners in PL Buyer’s 6th annual Private Label Packaging Awards contest in November 2008. The products feature simple, clean packaging that the award judges cited as “very nicely done.”

For 2009, Costco appears to be struggling a bit. Net sales for the third quarter of fiscal 2009 (ending May 10) declined 5 percent, the company said, to $15.5 billion, from $16.3 billion during the third quarter of fiscal 2008. Galanti said sales were negatively impacted by several factors, including a pretax charge of $34 million related to a membership renewal policy litigation settlement, higher employee benefits costs, lower international profits, and “ongoing weakness in sales, particularly sales of higher-ticket, discretionary items.”

Store Brand: Kirkland Signature


5. Target Corp.

Web site: www.target.com

Sales: $62.9 billion

Retail Banners: Target, SuperTarget

No. of Stores: 1,699 stores in 49 states, including more than 240 SuperTarget stores

No. of Employees: 351,000

Key Personnel: Gregg Steinhafel, Chairman, President and CEO

The News: Although Target said sales for fiscal 2008 increased in comparison to 2007 by 2.3 percent, the company noted the increase largely resulted from the contribution from new stores. In reality, sales declined 1.6 percent in fourth quarter 2008 ($19.0 billion compared to $19.3 billion in 2007), Target said.

“Our financial results for both the fourth quarter and 2008 fiscal year reflect the impact of unprecedented economic conditions on both of our business segments,” said Gregg Steinhafel, Target’s chairman, president and CEO (who gained the chairman title when Bob Ulrich retired in February 2009).

And 2009 is not looking all that rosy for Target, either. The company reported net earnings of $522 million for first quarter 2009 (ending May 2), compared to $602 million in first quarter 2008. That could be why this year finds the retailer putting more emphasis on the “Pay Less” half of its “Expect More. Pay Less” promise.

In 2008 private label news, Target announced a partnership with The Walt Disney Co. to offer licensed products featuring the Disney Channel’s Camp Rock movie and its stars, the Jonas Brothers teen singing group. In addition, the company’s Archer Farms cereal line - packaged in an oval paperboard canister - not only came out a winner in PL Buyer’s 6th annual Private Label Packaging Awards contest, but also was the hands-down favorite of the judges.

More recently, Target is said to have replaced its namesake Target private label and bull’s-eye logo with a new brand called up & up that features a big, colorful arrow on a white background. In an interview with Reuters, Kathee Tesija, the chain’s executive vice president of merchandising, said the new label is more distinctive than its predecessor and will stand out on store shelves - prompting customers that might not have noticed the Target brand to give up & up a try.

Store Brands: Archer Farms, C9 by Champion, Choxie, Dwell Studio for Target, Market Pantry, Merona, Mossimo, Sutton & Dodge, up & up, Xhilaration and more


6. Walgreen Co.

Web site: www.walgreens.com

Sales: $59.0 billion

Retail Banner: Walgreens

No. of Stores: 6,783 in 49 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico

No. of Employees: 237,000

Key Personnel: Alan G. McNally, Chairman; Greg D. Wasson, President and CEO

The News: Walgreens said fiscal 2008 marked its 34th consecutive year of record sales and earnings, fueled in part by strong private label sales. The retailer said its private label sales grew by 15 percent compared to fiscal 2007, and that the growth was helped by the company’s ongoing initiatives to strengthen private brand quality standards and update packaging.

In February 2009, Walgreens’ board of directors added the titles of CEO and director to Gregory D. Wasson’s president title. Alan G. McNally retains his chairman title, the company said.

Also in February, Rite Aid Corp. of Camp Hill, Pa., announced the signing of an agreement to sell seven Rite Aid locations in downtown San Francisco and five Rite Aid locations in eastern Idaho to Walgreens. And more recently (in May), Walgreens announced the completion of the acquisition of 31 Drug Fair stores in central and western New Jersey. The announcement followed an agreement reached in March associated with Drug Fair’s Chapter 11 process.

Walgreens said its second quarter (ending Feb. 28) fiscal 2009 sales increased 7.0 percent from the prior-year quarter to reach a record $16.5 billion, and grew 6.8 percent to $31.4 billion for the first half. Net earnings for the quarter, however, decreased 6.7 percent.

“We made solid progress in the quarter executing our long-term growth strategies in a challenging retail environment,” Wasson said in a press release. “With our new management team in place, we’re implementing significant cost reductions, engaging our customers more effectively and broadening access to affordable health care.”

Store Brands: Café W, Casual Gear, Deerfield Farms, Studio 35, W, Walgreens and more


7. Supervalu Inc.

Web site: www.supervalu.com

Sales: $44.6 billion

Retail Banners: Acme, Albertsons, bigg’s, Bristol Farms, Cub Foods, Farm Fresh Food & Pharmacy, Hornbacher’s, Jewel-Osco, Lucky, Save-A-Lot, Shaw’s/Star Market, Shop ‘n Save, Shoppers Food & Pharmacy, Supervalu Pharmacies, W. Newell & Co.

No. of Stores: 2,452

No. of Employees: Approx. 190,000

Key Personnel: Jeffrey Noddle, Executive Chairman; Craig Herkert, CEO; Michael Jackson, President and Chief Operating Officer

The News: Supervalu reported net sales of $44.6 billion for fiscal 2009 (ending Feb. 28, 2009) compared to net sales of $44.0 billion in fiscal 2008. In the company’s fourth quarter and fiscal 2009 earnings release, then-CEO Jeffrey Noddle noted that fiscal 2010 would be a year of further investment for the company.

“We know that consumers are placing a greater emphasis on price, and we are taking the actions necessary to strengthen our overall competitive position,” Noddle said. “While these actions will have a short-term impact on profitability, they build a better value proposition for consumers in this economic environment and provide a foundation for future robust sales growth.”

In late 2008, Supervalu introduced a new retail branding campaign called “Good things are just around the corner.” The retailer said the campaign “unites the company retail stores under a common theme, while also emphasizing the unique things that make each store relevant to their respective markets.”

But perhaps the biggest recent news from Supervalu is the appointment of Craig Herkert to the position of CEO. A former Wal-Mart Stores executive, Herkert will replace Noddle, who will become executive chairman. At press time, Herkert’s official start date had not been announced.

Supervalu also has been busy on the store brand front. In late 2008, it announced the launch of the Culinary Circle brand of premium “food lovers” foods. Supervalu said the private label lineup of 150-plus items in the deli, bakery, frozen and center store aisles will allow consumers “to enjoy restaurant-quality food right at home, easily and affordably.” And more recently, the retailer introduced its Stockman & Dakota brand of premium USDA Choice Angus beef.

Store Brands: Arctic Shores, Baby Basics, Culinary Circle, Equaline, Farm Stand, Happy Tails, Homelife, Java Delight, Stockman & Dakota, Wild Harvest and more - including many banner brands


8. Safeway Inc.

Web site: www.safeway.com

Sales: $44.1 billion

Retail Banners: Carrs, Dominick’s, Genuardi’s, Pavilions, Randall’s, Safeway, Tom Thumb, Vons

No. of Stores: 1,739 stores in the Western, Southwestern, Rocky Mountain, Midwestern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States and in Western Canada. (Safeway said it also holds a 49 percent interest in Casa Ley, S.A. de C.V., which as of Jan. 3, 2009, operated 146 food and general merchandise stores in Western Mexico.)

No. of Employees: 197,000

Key Personnel: Steven Burd, Chairman, President and CEO

The News: Safeway said sales increased 4.3 percent to reach $44.1 billion in fiscal 2008 from $42.3 billion in 2007. The company attributed the rise primarily to the additional week in fiscal 2008, increased fuel sales and identical-store sales increases, excluding fuel, of 0.8 percent.

In other Safeway news, the U.S. Department of Labor presented Steve Burd, the retailer’s chairman, president and CEO, with the Department’s 2008 SPIRIT Award for his leadership in furthering employment and workplace opportunities for people with disabilities.

On the new product side, Safeway announced the launch of its mom to mom baby products brand in 2008. The company said the new line of diapers, baby wipes, toiletries, lotions and more was developed with the input and guidance of "real moms."

In 2009, Safeway introduced the waterfront BISTRO line of almost 30 seafood selections and prepared entrees. The company said the line is designed for easy at-home preparation of a restaurant-quality meal.

Also in 2009, Safeway’s Lucerne Foods subsidiary announced the expansion of international distribution of its O Organics and Eating Right brands, with planned debuts at the ShopRite and Exito supermarket chains in South Africa and Columbia, respectively.

Store Brands: Basic Red, Eating Right, Lucerne, mom to mom, O Organics, Primo Taglio, Priority Pet Care, Rancher’s Reserve, Safeway/Safeway Select and more - including many banner brands


9. Rite Aid Corp.

Web site: www.riteaid.com

Sales: $26.3 billion

Retail Banner: Rite Aid

No. of Stores: 4,900 in 31 states and the District of Columbia

No. of Employees: 109,000

Key Personnel: Mary Sammons, Chairman and CEO; John T. Standley, President and Chief Operating Officer

The News: For fiscal 2009 (ending Feb. 28, 2009), Rite Aid reported revenues of $26.3 billion compared to revenues of $24.3 billion for the prior year. Revenue increases, the company said, were primarily driven by an additional quarter of sales for the Brooks Eckerd stores, which the company acquired on June 4, 2007 (and renamed to reflect the Rite Aid banner). Given the uncertainty of the retail environment, Rite Aid said it expects sales to be between $26.3 billion and $26.7 billion in fiscal 2010, with same-store sales improving 0.5 to 2.5 percent over fiscal 2009.

In September 2008, John Standley, a former senior Rite Aid executive, returned to the company as president and chief operating officer after serving as CEO and a director at Pathmark Stores Inc.

In 2009, Rite Aid said it signed an agreement to sell seven Rite Aid locations in downtown San Francisco and five Rite Aid locations in eastern Idaho to Walgreen Co., Deerfield, Ill.

“Our strategy is to focus our operations where we can best leverage the Rite Aid brand and operate most efficiently,” said Chris Hall, Rite Aid senior vice president of strategic business development. “With only seven stores in all of the city of San Francisco, we didn’t have the critical mass to be successful there, and our stores in eastern Idaho are just too widespread and too distant from other Rite Aid locations to operate efficiently. This is a good transaction for Rite Aid.”

On the store brand side, Rite Aid announced the launch of its own Rx Suncare line in February 2009. The company said the line is competitive with national brands or items found at high-end specialty retailers in terms of quality, but priced much lower. Seven products carry the Skin Cancer Foundation Seal of Recommendation as an effective UV sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 to 50 and anti-aging vitamins.

In March 2009, Rite Aid introduced its M5 Magnum five-blade shaving system. The product, which is comparable to leading national brands, has five titanium-coated blades and a trimmer on the back of the cartridge to cut sideburns, goatees and under the nose more accurately, Rite Aid said.

Store Brands: Big Fizz, Crystal Lake, Garden Rite, M5 Magnum, PharmAssure, Pure Spring, Rite Aid, Rx Suncare, Salon Plus, Thrifty (ice cream) and more

10. Loblaw Companies Ltd.

Web sites: www.loblaws.ca, www.loblaw.ca

Sales: $26.2 billion

Retail Banners: Atlantic Superstore, Dominion, Fortinos, Independent, Loblaw Superstore (Loblaws), Maxi, No Frills, Provigo, Real Canadian Superstore, the Real Canadian Wholesale Club, Valu-Mart and eight affiliate banners

No. of Stores: More than 1,000 corporate and franchised stores across Canada

No. of Employees: More than 139,000

Key Personnel: Galen G. Weston, Executive Chairman; Allan L. Leighton, President and Deputy Chairman

The News: Loblaw reported sales of CAN$30.8 billion (with a conversion at press time equal to US$26.2 billion) for fiscal 2008, an increase of 4.8 percent over the prior year.

In 2008, Loblaw marked the 25th year of publication of its “President’s Choice Holiday Insider’s Report,” which offered a retrospective window into the 25-year-old store brand and its uniquely Canadian and International food offerings, as well as a relaunch of some old favorites - at their original prices.

“Since launching in 1983, the Insider’s Report has brought the world’s flavors to Canadian tables at remarkable prices,” said Martin Jamieson, executive vice president, Loblaw Brands. “The President’s Choice brand has evolved into one of the most recognized and respected private label brands by listening to our customers. To honor their patronage, we’re bringing back the products that resonated with them the most over the past 25 years.”

Speaking of the President’s Choice brand, Loblaw continues to add green products here. Among the new President’s Choice products for 2009 is a coldwater laundry detergent that is fragrance-free and dye-free.

And this past May, Loblaw announced the availability of larger-size Club Packs in Loblaw stores. Club Pack-size products are available from both popular national brands and the no name and President’s Choice brands, the company said.

Store Brands: Joe Fresh Style, no name, President’s Choice


11. Publix Super Markets Inc.

Web site: www.publix.com

Sales: $23.9 billion

Retail Banners: Publix, Publix Greenwise Market, Publix Pix (convenience stores), Publix Sabor

No. of Stores: 1,002 in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama and Tennessee

No. of Employees: More than 140,000

Key Personnel: Charles Jenkins Jr., Chairman; Ed Crenshaw, CEO; Todd Jones, President

The News: Publix’s sales for the fiscal 2008 were $28.9 billion, a 4 percent increase from 2007's $23 billion. But comparable-store sales for the fourth quarter of 2008 decreased 0.9 percent. For the first quarter of fiscal 2009, the company reported net earnings of $321.5 million, compared to $343.2 million in 2008, a decrease of 6.3 percent.

“The economy continues to affect our results and stock price,” said Publix CEO Ed Crenshaw. “We look forward to an improving economy.”

In June 2008, Publix announced entry into an agreement to purchase 49 Florida stores from Albertson’s LLC. The transaction included store locations throughout the state.

Publix also reran its popular store brand challenge - whereby shoppers buy one national brand product and get the Publix brand equivalent for free - several times during the past year.

Store Brands: Publix, Publix GreenWise Market, Publix GreenWise Market Organic, Publix Premium


12. Ahold (North American operations)

Web site: www.ahold.com

Sales: $21.8 billion

Retail Banners: Giant Foods (Giant-Carlisle, Giant-Landover), Giant To Go, Martin’s, Peapod, Stop & Shop

No. of Stores: 730 in Delaware, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, Washington, D.C., West Virginia

No. of Employees: 81,800 (does not include Peapod)

Key Personnel: John Rishton, CEO; Lawrence Benjamin, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Ahold USA

The News: Ahold reported a strong fiscal 2008 (ending Dec. 28) for most of its U.S. operations. Stop & Shop and Giant-Landover enjoyed net sales of $17.1 billion, a 2.4 percent increase over fiscal 2007. Meanwhile, Giant-Carlisle had net sales of $4.7 billion, a 10 percent increase over fiscal 2007.

During 2008, Ahold also completed its Value Improvement Program, which included the rebranding of Stop & Shop and Giant-Landover.

“This strengthened our relative price position and led to market share gains and improved financial results in the second half of the year,” said CEO John Rishton. “Meanwhile, Giant-Carlisle continued its strong performance, gaining significant market share.”

Speaking of Giant-Carlisle, the banner announced in April that it is entering the c-store channel with a new Giant To Go store in Lancaster, Pa. The 4,422-square-foot store offers convenience-oriented foods, as well as “fresh” offerings.

Store Brands: CareOne, Companion, Cottontails, Giant, Guaranteed Value, JaVaNa, MiCasa, Nature’s Promise, Nature’s Promise Meats, Simply Enjoy and more


13. Delhaize America

Web site: www.delhaizeamerica.com

Sales: $19.2 billion

Retail Banners: Food Lion, Bloom, Bottom Dollar, Harveys, Hannaford Bros., Sweetbay

No. of Stores: 1,594 in 16 eastern states

No. of Employees: 109,000

Key Personnel: Count Jacobs de Hagen, Chairman, Delhaize Group; Pierre-Olivier Beckers President and CEO, Delhaize Group

The News: The Brussels-based Delhaize group said its U.S. operations realized revenues of $19.2 billion in fiscal 2008, an increase of 5.9 percent over 2007, “as a result of favorable sales mix changes at Food Lion and Hannaford” - both mainly resulting from more private brand sales.

Delhaize America opened 37 new U.S. stores in 2008, the company said, while it relocated six stores and closed seven others. Meanwhile, 161 U.S. stores were remodeled or expanded in 2008, 101 of which involved Food Lion locations.

For 2008, Delhaize America reported a number of key sales initiatives, including the development of a three-tier private brand program, which delivered strong results in 2008; increased promotional and pricing initiatives and expanded customer segmentation work at Food Lion; and continued price investments at Sweetbay that “led to an improved price reality aimed at improving customer perception.”

Also in 2008, Bloom announced its official launch of the Guiding Stars Nutrition Navigation Program. Developed by an independent scientific advisory panel of experts, Guiding Stars uses a specific algorithm to label food items based on their nutritional content. Hannaford Bros. inaugurated the Guiding Stars program in 2006.

Store Brands: Bloom, Braidenwood Estates, Butchers’ Brand, Food Lion, Healthy Accents, Home 360, Nature’s Place, On the Go Bistro, Sierra Madre, Taste of Inspirations and more


14. Kmart Corp.

Web sites: www.kmart.com, www.kmartcorp.com

Sales: $17.3 billion

Retail Banners: Kmart, Big Kmart, Kmart Super Center

No. of Stores: 1,368 across 49 states, Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands

Employees: 133,000 (as of Jan. 28. 2006)

Key Personnel: Edward S. Lempert, Chairman; W. Bruce Johnson, Interim President and CEO (both with Sears Holding Corp.)

The News: Kmart reported a 6.1 percent decline in comparable store sales for fiscal 2008. Sears Holdings Corp., Kmart’s parent company, said the declines continue to be driven by categories directly impacted by the housing market conditions and a slowdown in consumers’ discretionary spending.

In March, Kmart said it would expand its line of products under its Jaclyn Smith Home Collection, which includes patio furniture and spring and summer tabletop and décor items for the home and garden. In April, Sears Holdings announced a partnership with Hearst Magazines - publisher of Country Living magazine - to debut the Country Living Collection, a line of home fashions, including bedding and bath, tabletop, furniture and home decor. Sears Holdings said the line will roll out in August in more than 1,200 Kmart stores and 500 Sears stores nationwide.

Store Brands: Canyon River Blues, Country Living, Covington, Craftsman, DieHard, Jaclyn Smith, Joe Boxer, Kenmore, Lands’ End, Martha Stewart Everyday and more


15. Meijer Inc.

Web site: www.meijer.com

Sales: $13.9 billion

Retail Banner: Meijer

No. of Stores: More than 180

No. of Employees: More than 60,000

Key Personnel: Hendrik G. Meijer, Co-Chairman and CEO; Doug Meijer, Co-Chairman; Mark A. Murray, President and Director

The News: Privately held Meijer doesn’t share much information in regard to its fiscal earnings. However, it has shared plenty about what it has done on the Web and on the shelf in the last year.

In 2008, the retailer launched the Meijer MealBox, a Web site and widget that helps shoppers plan their meals. The tool allows shoppers to plan a week’s worth of meals in minutes while offering recipes, daily planners, relevant coupons, nutritional information and other food-related content. In February 2009, the retailer said the widget was named one of the Hot 100 best retail Web sites for 2009 by Internet Retailer magazine.

In April 2009, the company launched its Meijer Naturals line, comprising 75 items, from snacks and sauces to desserts and beverages. The health-oriented brand - a sister brand to Meijer Organics - contains no genetically modified organisms, high fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, added hydrogenated oils/trans fats, artificial food colorings/flavorings and artificial preservatives.

Store Brands: Baby Beginnings, Circle M, Cliff Hanger, Falls Creek, Markets of Meijer, Meijer Gold, Meijer Naturals, Meijer Organics, Reality, Studio M and more

16. H.E. Butt Grocery Co.

Web site: www.heb.com

Sales: $13.5 billion

Retail Banners: Central Market, H-E-B, H-E-B Plus!

No. of Stores: More than 300

No. of Employees: 63,000

Key Personnel: Charles C. Butt, Chairman and CEO; Bob Loeffler, President

The News: Although privately held H-E-B is tight-lipped on financial matters, the retailer did have other news to share in 2008. In November, H-E-B appointed Bob Loeffler, who previously served as chief operating officer, as president of the company.

In October 2008, H-E-B hosted a promotion featuring recipes to feed the family for under $10. The promotion - hosted on the retailer’s Web site - showcased H-E-B brand products. One option was an H-E-B Popcorn Chicken Salad -consisting of H-E-B Fully Cooked popcorn chicken, a package of H-E-B Ready Fresh Go! garden salad and a cup of Hill Country Fare ranch dressing.

H-E-B also made big news on the private label side in November, when the company was one of four to receive one of the Private Label Manufacturers Association’s (PLMA) 2008 Salute to Excellence Awards. PLMA said the award represents “not only the industry’s appreciation, but also a benchmark of how far store brands have come.”

Store Brands: Central Market All Natural, Central Market Organics, EconoMax, H-E-B, H-E-Buddy, H-E-B Creamy Creations, H-E-B Fully Cooked, H-E-B MooTopia, Hill Country Fare, Personal Expressions and more


17. Sobeys Inc.

Web sites: www.sobeys.com, http://corporate.sobeys.com

Sales: $12.1 billion

Retail Banners: Sobeys, IGA, IGA Extra, Foodland, Price Chopper, Thrifty Foods

No. of Stores: More than 1,300 stores (owned or franchised) across Canada

No. of Employees: More than 75,000

Key Personnel: Bill McEwan, President and CEO; François Vimard, chief financial officer

The News: For fiscal 2008, Sobeys announced a revenue increase of 5.2 percent over fiscal 2007, and its same-store sales increased 2.8 percent.

In September 2008, the Canadian retailer announced the launch of Club Sobeys and its Club Sobeys MasterCard in Sobeys banner stores across Ontario and Western Canada. Also in September, Sobeys introduced nearly 100 new products under its co-branded Compliments Junior Disney line for kids. The company said more than 75 percent of the products meet the Heart and Stroke Foundation’s nutrient criteria for healthy choices and bear the Health Check symbol.

Store Brands: Big 8, Compliments, Compliments Balance, Compliments Collection, Compliments Culinaire, Compliments GreenCare, Compliments Junior Disney, Compliments Organic, Compliments Sensations, Compliments Value and more


18. Dollar General

Web site: www.dollargeneral.com

Sales: $10.5 billion

Retail Banner: Dollar General

No. of Stores: More than 8,400 in 35 states

No. of Employees: 72,000

Key Personnel: Richard Dreiling, Chairman and CEO; David Beré, President and Chief Strategy Officer

The News: Dollar General announced that its fiscal 2008 sales increased 10.1 percent over fiscal 2007, while same-store sales rose 9.0 percent. The company also said it plans to open approximately 450 new stores and remodel or relocate approximately 400 stores in 2009.

In December 2008, the company announced that CEO Richard W. Dreiling added the title of chairman.

During its fiscal 2008 third-quarter earnings call in December, Dreiling said the retailer’s private label penetration was at 20.2 percent, compared to the previous year’s 17.2 percent. Dreiling said he has no doubt private label will play an ever-increasing role in furthering gross margins as the company moves through 2009 and beyond.

Store Brands: Clover Valley, DG Everyday, DG Value, EverPet


19. BJ’s Wholesale Club

Web site: www.bjs.com

Sales: $9.8 billion

Retail Banner: BJ’s Wholesale Club

No. of Stores: 180 in 15 states

No. of Employees: More than 20,000

Key Personnel: Herbert J. Zarkin, Chairman; Laura J. Sen, President, CEO and Director

For fiscal 2008, BJ’s Wholesale Club reported an 11.5 percent increase in sales over fiscal 2007. Its comparable club sales increased by 9.4 percent (including a favorable impact of 3.0 percent from sales of gasoline).

In December 2008, the company announced that Laura Sen, president and chief operating officer, would become president, CEO and a director. Herbert J. Zarkin, who preceded Sen as CEO, continues as chairman.

During the chain’s fiscal 2008 fourth-quarter earnings call in March 2009, Sen said the company has not been as “bullish” with recent private label efforts as it was in the past. The retailer eliminated about 20 percent of its private label items in 2008 because consumers were choosing national brands over private label. However, the company said it is rebuilding its private label program with unique destination items that yield better margins.

Store Brands: Berkley & Jensen, Earth’s Pride, Executive Choice, Lanesboro, Rozzano, Wellesley Farms


20. The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. Inc.

Web sites: www.aptea.com, www.apsupermarket.com

Sales: $9.5 billion

Retail Banners: A&P, Food Basics, The Food Emporium, Pathmark, Super Fresh, Waldbaum’s

No. of Stores: 444

No. of Employees: 50,000

Key Personnel: Christian W. E. Haub, Executive Chairman; Eric Claus, President and CEO

The News: For fiscal 2008, A&P realized a 2.0 percent increase in comparable store sales, and a 0.8 percent increase for Pathmark.

The company - celebrating its 150th anniversary in 2009 - has been doing much to expand its own brands. The retailer launched two new brands in 2008 - its premium Hartford Reserve brand in October, and its Via Roma line of Italian pastry products in December.

A&P now has 10 premium, specialty and national-brand-equivalent lines, offering more than 2,500 grocery items. The retailer also said it will roll out full-line launches for each brand throughout 2009, stocking each brand in all A&P banner stores.

Store Brands: America’s Choice, Green Way, Hartford Reserve, Health Pride, Live Better, Market Spa, Preferred Pet, Savings Plus, Smart Price, Via Roma and more


21. Metro Inc.

Web site: www.metro.ca

Sales: $9.2 billion

Retail Supermarket Banners: A&P (Canada), The Barn, Dominion, Food Basics, Loeb, Metro, Metro Plus, Super C, Ultra

Retail Drugstore Banners: Brunet, Clini Plus, Drug Basics, The Pharmacy

No. of Stores: 553 food stores, 263 pharmacies in Quebec and Ontario

No. of Employees: More   than 65,000

Key Personnel: Pierre H. Lessard, Executive Chairman

The News: For fiscal 2008, Metro realized an increase of 0.8 percent in sales and 5.8 percent in net earnings over fiscal 2007. In September 2008, the retailer began consolidating its five conventional food store banners in Ontario - A&P, The Barn Markets, Dominion, Loeb and Ultra. All are to be under the Metro name within 15 months from that date. The launch of Metro in Ontario is to be supported by a $200 million investment in upgraded store facilities, food offerings and marketing to make Metro the province’s largest grocery banner with 158 stores. In December, Metro was added to the S&P/TSX 60 Index.

Metro’s private labels are doing well, too. The retailer told The Canadian Press in April 2009 that its Selection and Irresistibles brands have experienced double-digit sales growth since 2,000 of such items hit the shelves. The retailer also said it is in the middle of increasing its private label lines to include 3,500 offerings by the end of 2009.

Store Brands: Irresistibles/Irresistibles Life Smart, Selection


22. Shoppers Drug Mart

Web site: www.shoppersdrugmart.ca

Sales: $8.1 billion

Retail Banners: Pharmaprix, Pharmaprix Simplement SantéMC, Shoppers Drug Mart, Shoppers Simply Pharmacy

No. of Stores: More than 1,242

No. of Employees: 20,600

Key Personnel: David M. Williams, Chairman; Jürgen Schreiber, President and CEO

The News: Shoppers Drug Mart’s fiscal 2008 sales saw an 11.1 percent increase over fiscal 2007, and excluding tobacco products, same-store sales increased 4.8 percent. During the 2008 fiscal year, the retailer opened or acquired 142 drugstores - 37 of which were relocations - and closed 13 smaller stores. In the fourth quarter, the company also launched Murale, an innovative standalone beauty concept, with the opening of two stores.

In March 2009, Shoppers Drug Mart announced the unveiling of an exclusive line of organic foods with its Nativa Organics brand. The company called the 170-item rollout the “largest-ever food product launch in the company’s 40-year history, and one of the most comprehensive retail offerings of organic food products in Canada.”

Store Brands: Bio-Life, Easypix, Everyday Market, Get, LifeBrand, Nativa, Quo and more


23. Giant Eagle Inc.

Web site: www.gianteagle.com

Sales: $8.0 billion

Retail Banners: GetGo, Giant Eagle, Giant Eagle Express, Market District

No. of Stores: 223 throughout Western Pennsylvania, Ohio, Northern West Virginia, Western Maryland

No. of Employees: 36,000

Key Personnel: David S. Shapira, Chairman, President and CEO

The News: Giant Eagle continues to lead by example in terms of environmental responsibility. The company won the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star Sustained Excellence Award for 2009, for installation of new energy-efficient lighting technology, the purchase of wind-generated electricity and educating team members on how to save energy.

The retailer also recently announced a program in which it allows customers to save money on gas when they spend a certain amount on groceries.

Store Brands: Giant Eagle, Market District, Nature’s Basket and Valu Time


24. Whole Foods Market Inc.

Web site: www.wholefoods.com

Sales: $8.0 billion

Retail Banners: Capers Whole Foods Market, Harry’s Farmers Market, Whole Foods Market

No. of Stores: More than 275 in 38 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., Canada and the United Kingdom

No. of Employees: 52,000

Key Personnel: John Mackey, Chairman and CEO

The News: Fiscal 2008 was rough for Whole Foods, which struggled against the economic downturn. However, the retailer hasn’t been without good news.

In November 2008, the retailer announced that the Los Angeles-based private equity firm Leonard Green & Partners purchased a $425 million stake in the chain. Whole Foods CEO John Mackey said he saw the purchase as “a strong vote of confidence in our business model and our long-term growth prospects, despite the economic environment.”

In March 2009, Whole Foods said it reached a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regarding FTC’s antitrust challenge to the retailer’s 2007 acquisition of Wild Oats Markets Inc. Whole Foods agreed to sell 13 operational stores, the leases and assets of 19 shuttered stores and the Wild Oats trademarks and other intellectual property associated with Wild Oats stores. The stores targeted for closing were seen as underperforming locations, so some analysts believed this move was good for Whole Foods.

On the store brand side, Whole Foods launched four exclusive lines of body care products in October 2008, featuring eco-friendly ingredients and packaging materials. At the same time, it added 200 new Eco Baby products to its selection of more than 1,000 baby products.

Store Brands: 365 Everyday Value, 365 Organic Everyday Value, Eco Baby, Whole Foods Market, Whole Kids Organic, Whole Kitchen, Whole Pantry, Whole Paws, Whole Ranch, Whole Treat and more


25. Winn-Dixie Stores Inc.

Web site: www.winndixie.com

Sales: $7.3 billion

Retail Banners: SaveRite, Winn-Dixie, Winn-Dixie Marketplace

No. of Stores: 520 throughout Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi.

No. of Employees: More than 50,000

Key Personnel: Peter L. Lynch, Chairman, President and CEO

The News: Winn-Dixie’s fiscal 2008 identical-store sales increased 0.9 percent over fiscal 2007.

The company said its corporate brands program is a “key component of its long-term strategic plan.” By the end of fiscal 2008, the retailer had approximately 1,500 private label products with redesigned packaging on the shelf, surpassing the company’s goal by 500 products.

Winn-Dixie also reported that it improved its corporate brands penetration rate to 22 percent, an increase of 150 basis points compared to the same period in fiscal year 2007. Winn-Dixie’s plan is to have a total of 3,000 private label products with redesigned packaging on shelf by the end of fiscal 2010.

And speaking of packaging, Winn-Dixie walked away with three awards during PL Buyer’s 2008 Private Label Packaging Awards - one for its organic line, one for its bread/bakery selection and one for its sorbet and gelato line.

Store Brands: Thrifty Maid, Winn-Dixie, Winn & Lovett PLB

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