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Welcome to PLBuyer’s annual ranking of the largest sellers of private label food and grocery items in North America. As always we have strive to bring you information you can’t find anywhere else. For this year’s list, we once again partnered with Retail Systems Research, a widely recognized retail research company.
RSR’s Paula Rosenblum discusses the private label marketplace in detail with this analysis and gives her take on the Top 35 list.
RSR’s Take on Private Label Buyer Top 35
Private label has proven to be the antidote to razor thin gross margins and for many retailers, has been the brightest light in otherwise turbulent times. Top-line
revenues seem to fluctuate from quarter to quarter, and the number of price changes sent to stores continues to escalate, but for a majority of retailers, selling gross margin continues to rise.
These retailers have found new and creative ways to chase private label sales. Basically, wherever the national brands go, private label brands follow. Towards that end, over the past year they have enhanced their private label offerings to include “good, better, best” options.
For example, CVS added the “basics” line, its value offering, while Publix and Winn-Dixie have added focus on their premium/black label products. Generally, supermarket retailers also have expanded heavily into “natural” and organic products, hoping to capitalize on that trend.
Across the board, retailers are investing heavily in health and beauty categories, as well. For many of the top 35, HBA accounted for a large percentage of private label sales increases. It is a testimony to the consumer’s confidence in private label quality to see sales extending into this category.
Of the top 35, 62 percent saw an increase in the percentage of private label product sold, 22 percent saw a decrease, and the remaining retailers stayed flat as a percentage of total sales.
Walmart is perhaps most notable among those with a decrease in private label sales. In fact when comparing that number with Kroger’s increase, if current trends continue, Kroger soon will surpass Walmart in total private label product revenue.
This was, perhaps, our most surprising finding. RSR believes there are two primary drivers of this change:
• Encroachment by Dollar Stores – Dollar stores have nipped at the edges of Walmart’s market basket by offering familiar brand name products at a steep discount. A recent look at Dollar General’s website, for example, revealed special sales on Maxwell House Coffee, Lysol, and Tide. Of course, looking further into the assortment, we found lots of private label products, including food storage containers, milk, bleach and other products. Once burned by its SKU-rationalization project (and subsequent consumer revolt), Walmart seems to have shifted its focus back to national brands in an attempt to stop basket erosion.
• Walmart’s Sheer Size Driving Steep Brand Discounts –Walmart might have created some self-inflicted pain when it “rationalized away” thousands of SKUs, but we’re quite certain the consumer products’ manufacturers who were eliminated felt almost equal pain. No supplier can easily afford to let its top line sink as a result of being dropped from the Walmart lineup. So when leading Wall Street retail analyst Deborah Weinswig reports that “Walmart has committed to investing more aggressively in price this year,” we can be reasonably assured that its suppliers will share the pain. Interestingly, despite these investments, Weinswig also reports Supervalu and Safeway closing the price gap with Walmart. Retailers remain engaged in a seemingly endless price war – one that only companies with heavy commitments to private label can match.
Certainly the move to private label is not exclusive to the supermarket industry. The combination of private label and exclusive brands is driving sales at general merchandise and apparel retailers such as Macy’s, Limited, Pottery Barn, Gap and American Eagle. However, the dramatic shift in product quality perception is most evident in the supermarket space.
Of course, general merchandise and apparel brands are better able to take advantage of the omni-channel effect, and have become competitive to their wholesale customers. A shopper can buy Ralph Lauren products from Nordstrom or Macy’s (for example), or just buy online (or in-store) direct from the brand. Food and consumer products manufacturers as yet have not been able to match that advantage.
Thus we end with a question: How long will it take for grocery suppliers to do the same? When will we see those brand managers attempt to disintermediate retailers?
Given the brand equity that still remains for those national brands, it seems like it’s only a matter of time.
Retail Systems Research (RSR) is the only research company run by retailers for the retail industry. RSR provides insight into business and technology challenges facing the extended retail industry, providing thought leadership and advice on navigating these challenges for specific companies and the industry at large. Learn more by visiting www.rsrresearch.com.
Walmart Stores Inc.
PL Grocery Sales: $31.4 billion
Retail Banners: Walmart Supercenters, Walmart Discount Stores, Walmart Neighborhood Markets, Walmart Express
No. of U.S. Stores: At the end of fiscal year 2012, Walmart had more than 4,500 stores and clubs in the U.S.
CEO: Mike Duke
Private Labels: Great Value, Home Trends, Equate, Ol’ Roy, Parents’ Choice, others
PL News: Bentonville, Ark.-based Walmart in August of this year announced that it would roll out its first ultra premium dry dog food brand in stores, Pure Balance. In an effort to save diabetes patients money, Walmart also earlier this year launched an exclusive line of ReliOn brand diabetes products.
The Kroger Co.
PL Grocery Sales: $24.4 billion
Retail Banners: Kroger, Kroger fresh fare, Ralphs, Dillons, King Soopers, Fry’s, QFC, City Market, Owen’s, Jay C, Pay Less, Baker’s, Gerbes, Scott’s Food & Pharmacy, Fred Meyer, Dillons Marketplace, Fry’s Marketplace, Kroger Marketplace, Smith’s Marketplace, Food 4 Less, Foods Co
No. of U.S. Stores: As of May 19, it operates 2,425 grocery retail stores in 31 states under nearly two dozen banners.
CEO: David Dillon
Private Labels: Private Selection, Simple Truth, Kroger, Mirra Daily, Comforts, Pet Pride, Big K, Value, Fresh Selections, Home Sense, Wholesome@Home, Truly Awesome
PL News: In June of this year, Cincinnati-based Kroger announced plans to sell private brand single-serve coffee cups for Keurig machines that would compete with Green Mountain brand cups.
PL Grocery Sales: $11.2 billion
Retail Banner: Costco
No. of U.S. Stores: 439 locations in 40 U.S. states & Puerto Rico, as of Aug. 31
President and CEO: W. Craig Jelinek
Private Label: Kirkland Signature
PL News: Issaquah, Wash.-based Costco this spring announced that it would start using new voluntary recycling labels on some of its Kirkland Signature private label items starting in June.
PL Grocery Sales: $10.2 billion
Retail Banners: Carrs, Dominick’s, Pavilions, Randalls, Safeway, Tom Thumb, Vons
No. of Stores: 1,666
Chairman and CEO: Steve Burd
Private Labels: Bright Green, Eating Right, Lucerne, mom to mom, O Organics, Open Nature, Pantry Essentials, Primo Taglio, Priority Total Pet Care, Rancher’s Reserve, refreshe, Safeway, Safeway SELECT, Signature Café, The Snack Artist, waterfront BISTRO, In-Kind
PL News: Days after Kroger announced its launch of private brand coffee pods for the Keurig machine, Safeway followed suit saying that it also will be adding to its line of private brand coffee pods. Safeway also announced earlier in March of this year that it is committed to responsibly source all of its private brand paper products. A month prior, they also announced a competition in which chefs from across the nation competed for a job with the Safeway Culinary Kitchens and had their recipe included in the private brand Open Nature Skillet Meal line sold in their stores nationwide.
Loblaw Companies Ltd.
PL Grocery Sales: $8.4 billion
Retail Banners: Atlantic Superstore, Bloorstreet Market, club entrepot, Dominion, Extra Foods, Fortinos, independent, Les Entrepots Presto, Loblaws, Loblaw Great Food, Loblaw Superstore, nofrills, maxi, maxi & cie, provigo, Real Canadian Superstore, Real Canadian Wholesale Club, SaveEasy, T&T Supermarket, valu-mart, Zehrs, Zehrs Great Food and more.
No. of Stores: More than 1,000 corporate and franchised stores
COO: Peter K. McMahon
Private Labels: Joe Fresh, no name, President’s Choice, President’s Choice Blue, President’s Choice Green, President’s Choice Organics.
PL News: In August, Loblaw said that it redesigned packaging for its President’s Choice Blue Menu brand of products, by including “plus” and “minus” symbols identifying specific nutrients.
Trader Joe’s Company
PL Grocery Sales: $7.7 billion
Retail Banner: Trader Joe’s
No. of U.S. Stores: 375
CEO: Dan T. Bane
Private Labels: Trader Joe’s, Trader Ming’s, Trader Jose, Trader Giotto, Pilgrim Joe and more
PL News: Monrovia, Calif.-based Trader Joe’s earlier this year held its Quintessential Quinoa recipe contest, which challenged customers to create and submit recipes featuring only Trader Joe’s private label products.
PL Grocery Sales: $6.9 billion
Retail Banner: Aldi
No. of U.S. Stores: 1,215
Co-Presidents: Jason Hart, Charles (Chuck) Youngstrom
Private Labels: Fit & Active, Tuscan Garden, Lacura, Grandessa Signature, L’oven Fresh, Sweet Harvest, Clancy’s, Kirkwood, Summit and others
PL News: Earlier this summer, Aldi launched a national ad campaign that spanned TV, fliers, billboards and social media, called the Truths. The campaign explains some of the advantages of shopping at a no-frills store such as Aldi.
PL Grocery Sales: $6 billion
Retail Banners: Target, SuperTarget, Target PFresh
No. of Stores: 1,767
Chairman & CEO: Gregg Steinhafel
Private Labels: Archer Farms, Choxie, DwellStudio for Target, Market Pantry, Merona, Mossimo, Sutton & Dodge, Threshold, up & up, Wine Cube and others
PL News: Minneapolis-based Target had a big announcement this year with the news that Target Home would be replaced by the Threshold brand. The retailer also earlier this year unveiled its innovative private brand design partnership called The Shops at Target.
PL Grocery Sales: $6 billion
Retail Banners: Albertsons, Jewel-Osco, Acme, Cub Foods, Shaw’s, Save-A-Lot, Shoppers, Shop n’ Save, Farm Fresh, Hornbacher’s, Lucky
No. of U.S. Stores: 2,434
Chairman, President & CEO: Wayne C. Sales
Private Labels: Essential Everyday, Arctic Shores, Baby Basics, Carlita, Culinary Circle, Equaline, Farm Stand, Java Delight, Shoppers Value, Stockman & Dakota, Stone Ridge Creamery, wild harvest, Super Chill, WholeCarePet
PL News: In September, Minneapolis-based Supervalu announced the launch of the private brand Java Delight single serve uncup, a new single serve size of its premium coffee product. The company also announced this year that it was expanding its Essential Everyday private brand to 2,700 of the most shopped for products across more than 100 categories throughout the grocery store by 2013.
PL Grocery Sales: $5.7 billion
Retail Banners: Publix, Publix Sabor, Publix GreenWise Markets
No. of U.S. Stores: 1,059
CEO: Ed Crenshaw
Private Labels: Publix, Publix GreenWise, Publix Premium, Publix Bakery, Publix Deli
PL News: Lakeland, Fla.-based Publix in 2012 refreshed its Publix private label candy packaging.
PL Grocery Sales: $5.3 billion
Retail Banner: Sam’s Club
No. of U.S. Stores: 620 in U.S. and Puerto Rico.
CEO: Brian Cornell, CEO and president
Private Labels: Simply Right, Daily Chef, Artisan Fresh, Bakers & Chefs, Sophyto, Calle Azul, Rue 33
PL News: At the beginning of 2012, Sam’s Club announced the addition of vitamins to its private brand Simply Right.
PL Grocery Sales: $5.1 billion
Retail Banner: Walgreens
No. of Stores: 7,919
President & CEO: Greg Wasson
Private Labels: Walgreens, Nice!, Sunny Smile, others
PL News: Earlier this year, Deerfield, Ill.-based Walgreens introduced Well at Walgreens, its new health and wellness line. Earlier this year, the drugstore chain also debuted its new Sunny Smile private brand.
PL Grocery Sales: $5 billion
Retail Banners: Food Lion, Bottom Dollar Food, Harveys, Hannaford, Sweetbay Supermarkets
No. of U.S. Stores: 1,627
CEO: Roland Smith, president and CEO of Delhaize Group SA. Carol Herndon, chief administrative officer, Delhaize America
Private Labels: Healthy Accents, My Essentials, Taste of Inspirations, Home 360, Smart Options, Nature’s Place, Healthy Concerns
PL News: In 2012, Food Lion continued to expand its rebranding effort. The effort includes lower everyday retail prices on staple items, larger emphasis on private brands, and improvements in produce quality and variety and in-store service.
PL Grocery Sales: $4.4 billion
Retail Banners: Sobeys, IGA extra, Thrifty Foods, IGA, Foodland, FreshCo., Price Chopper, Lawtons Drugs, Rachelle-Bery, Needs, Marche Bonichoix and Les Marches Tradition.
No. of Stores: 1,575
President and CEO: Marc Poulin
Private Labels: Compliments, Sensations by Compliments, Compliments Balance, Compliments Organic, Compliments GreenCare, Gourmet Minute, S!gnal.
PL News: Earlier this year, Sobeys launched a customer insight program that will allow its suppliers to analyze data from the retailer’s loyalty programs and help them make smarter decisions about in-store assortment and promotions.
PL Grocery Sales: $4.1 billion
Retail Banners: Stop & Shop, Giant Landover, Giant Carlisle, Martin’s
No. of U.S. Stores: 759
CEO: Dick Boer
Private Labels: Stop & Shop, Giant, Nature’s Promise, Simply Enjoy, CareOne, Guaranteed Value
PL News: Earlier in 2012, Ahold US banners Stop & Shop, Giant of Landover and Giant Carlisle introduced a redesign of its value tier private brand Guaranteed Value.
CVS Caremark Corp.
PL Grocery Sales: $3.4 billion
Retail Banner: CVS
No. of Stores: More than 7,000 CVS/pharmacy and specialty pharmacy locations in 43 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia
President & CEO: Larry J. Merlo
Private Labels: Just the Basics, Life Fitness, PLAYSKOOL Baby Care, Skin Effects by Dr. Jeffrey Dover, 24.7.
PLNews: CVS announced plans to develop its portfolio of private brands, building off the momentum of successful launches such as the 2011 debut of Nuance.
H.E. Butt Grocery Co.
PL Grocery Sales: $3 billion
Retail Banners: H-E-B., H-E-B.-Plus, Central Market
No. of Stores: More than 340
CEO: Charles Butt
Private Labels: H-E-B, Hill Country, Hill Country Fare, Hill Country Essentials, Central Market, H-E-Buddy
PLNews: In July, San Antonio, Texas-based H-E-B rolled out a line of private label candy bars. The candy bars are made in Germany and come in four varieties: Chewomp!, Caramel Cloud, Cocoa Cloud, and Kooky Caramel flavor. After sponsoring a contest to allow customers to pick a new limited edition private label potato chip at H-E-B, the company announced on its Facebook page that the winning choice would become a regular item at the grocer. The Loaded Baked Potato Chip flavor won the store’s contest, beating out Baby Back Ribs, Buffalo Wings and Rosemary.
Giant Eagle, Inc.
PL Grocery Sales: $2.8 billion
Retail Banners: Giant Eagle, Market District, Giant Eagle Express, ValuKing, GetGo
No. of U.S. Stores: 175 corporate and 54 independently owned and operated supermarkets in addition to 168 fuel and convenience stores throughout Western Pennsylvania, Ohio, north central West Virginia and Maryland
CEO: David S. Shapira
Private Labels: Giant Eagle, Market District, Nature’s Basket, Valu Time, Top Care
PL Grocery Sales: $2.4 billion
Retail Banners: Metro, Metro Plus, Super C and Food Basics, as well as over 250 drugstores under the Brunet, The Pharmacy and Drug Basics banners
No. of Stores: More than 600 food stores and over 250 drugstores
CEO: Eric R. La Flèche
Private Labels: Irresistibles and Selection
PL Grocery Sales: $2.4 billion
Retail Banner: Dollar General
No. of U.S. Stores: More than 10,000 in 40 states
CEO: Richard Dreiling
Private Labels: Bobbie Brooks, Clover Valley, DG Body, DG Health, EverPet, Smart & Simple, trueliving, more
PL News: Goodlettsville, Tenn.-based Dollar General launched a new pet food brand earlier this year, Butcher’s Selects Premium Dog Food.
PL Grocery Sales: $2.4 billion
Retail Banners: Meijer, Meijer Marketplace
No. of U.S. Stores: Nearly 200
CEO: Hank Meijer, co-chairman, CEO
Private Labels: Meijer Brand, Meijer Gold, Meijer Organics, Meijer Naturals, Meijer Ecowise, Meijer Elements
PLNews: Meijer moved into dairy production in April after it bought Bareman’s Dairy, a Michigan-based family-owned company. It was expected to begin shipping products to Meijer stores in Michigan by the end of the year.
PL Grocery Sales: $2 billion
Retail Banners: Hy-Vee, Hy-Vee Drugstore
No. of U.S. Stores: More than 235 retail stores across eight Midwestern states
CEO: Randy Edeker
Private Labels: Hy-Vee, Midwest Country Fare, Baking Stone Bread, Full Circle, World Classics Trading Company, Hy-Vee Mother’s Choice, Hy-Vee Garden Helpers, Hy-Vee Home Helpers, Hy-Vee Kitchen Helpers, LeTechniq, Di Lusso, Paws Premium, Amana Beef, Hy-Vee HealthMarket, Blue Ribbon, One Step, baraboo brewing company, b•leve, others
PL News: Hy-Vee recently expanded its private label craft beer line with the addition of Bonfire Marzen Ale, the latest flavor under the Baraboo Brewing Co. brand. Earlier this year, Hy-Vee also launched a Hy-Vee brands sale.
PL Grocery Sales: $1.7 billion
Retail Banners: A&P, Pathmark, Waldbaums, Super Fresh, The Food Emporium, Food Basics
No. of U.S. Stores: 395
CEO: Sam Martin
Private Labels: America’s Choice, Hartford Reserve, Live Better Wellness, Home Basics, Food Basics, Greenway, Via Roma, Food Emporium Trading Company
PL News: The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company, Inc. (A&P) earlier this summer extended its premium beef private brand Woodson & James to include all-beef Angus hot dogs and marinades.
Winn-Dixie Stores Inc.
PL Grocery Sales: $1.6 billion
Retail Banner: Winn-Dixie
No. of U.S. Stores: 482
CEO: Randall Onstead
Private Labels: Winn-Dixie, Winn-Dixie Organics and Naturals, Winn & Lovett, Valu Time, Kuddles, Prestige, Chek, Fisherman’s Wharf, Paws, Topcare
PL Grocery Sales: $1.6 billion
Retail Banner: Wegmans
No. of U.S. Stores: 79
CEO: Danny Wegman
Private Labels: Wegmans
PL News: Earlier this year, Rochester, N.Y.-based Wegmans introduced a private brand line of gluten-free products. Wegmans also extended a price freeze promotion for its customers, committing to not raise prices on more than 50 family favorite private brand products for a period of time.
PL Grocery Sales: $1.5 billion
Retail Banner: Rite Aid Pharmacy
No. of Stores: Approximately 4,700
CEO: John T. Standley
Private Labels: Rite Aid, Thrifty Ice Cream, PharmAssure, Tugaboos, Pantry and Simplify
PL News: Camp Hill, Pa.-based Rite Aid celebrated the second birthday of its Tugaboos brand with a private brand promotion where customers could win free Tugaboos diapers for one year. Rite Aid also introduced Thrifty Greek-style nonfat frozen yogurts earlier this year.
Whole Foods Market Inc.
PL Grocery Sales: $1.1 billion
Retail Banner: Whole Foods Market
No. of Stores: More than 310 in North America and the United Kingdom
CEO: John Mackey and Walter Robb, co-CEOs
Private Labels: 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, Whole Creamery, Whole Catch
Shoppers Drug Mart
PL Grocery Sales: $1.1 billion
Retail Banners: Shoppers Drug Mart, Pharmaprix (Quebec), Shoppers Simply Pharmacy, Pharmaprix Simplement Sante (Quebec), Shoppers Home Health Care, Murale
No. of Stores: More than 1,181
President & CEO: Domenic Pilla
Private Labels: Allude, Amigo, Baby Life Brand, Baléa, Bath Retreat, Bella, Bio*Life, Easypix, Etival, Everyday Market, Get, Jolie, Life Brand, Nativa Organics, Simply Food, Sox Sense, Stylize, Sunthera 3
Wakefern Food Corp.
PL Grocery Sales: $1 billion
Retail Banners: ShopRite, PriceRite
No. of U.S. Stores: 220 ShopRite stores and more than 40 PriceRite stores
Chairman & CEO: Joseph Colalillo
Private Labels: ShopRite, PriceRite
PL Grocery Sales: $959 million
Retail Banner: Family Dollar
No. of U.S. Stores: 7,023
Chairman & CEO: Howard R. Levine
Private Labels: Family Dollar, Family Gourmet, Family Pet, Family Wellness, Family Chef, Kidgets, Indoors by Design, Outdoors By Design, Tropic Sun, Extremely Me, Mix & co, Highland Outfitters
PL News: In a Jan. 6, 2012 earnings call, Family Dollar CEO Howard R. Levine said the retailer would add 100 new private brand food products in the first quarter as a part of 300 new food items to be introduced in stores. Family Dollar also launched the newest addition to its private brand portfolio, Family Wellness, a health and beauty brand. Named Tammy DeBoer as head of private brands division in July.
PL Grocery Sales: $874 million
Retail Banner: 7-Eleven
No. of Stores: 7,980 in the U.S. and Canada
CEO and President: Joseph DePinto
Private Labels: 7-Eleven®, 7-Select®, Slurpee®, Big Gulp®, Big Bite® Proprietary wines include: Sonoma Crest, Yosemite Road, Cherrywood Cellars, VitAlma
PL Grocery Sales: $828 million
Retail Banners: S-Mart Foods, Lucky and FoodMaxx
No. of U.S. Stores: 241
CEO: Bob Piccinini
Private Labels: World Classics, Full Circle, Pacific Coast Selections, MasterCut, Master Catch, Sunny Select, Sunnyside Farms, Bayside Farms, Maxx Value, ValuTime, Today’s Health, Pacific Coast Café
BJ’s Wholesale Club
PL Grocery Sales: $800 million
Retail Banner: BJ’s
No. of U.S. Stores: Over 190
CEO: Laura Sen
Private Labels: Richelieu Foods, Berkley & Jensen, Lanesboro, Rozzano, Wellsley Farms, Executive Choice
PL Grocery Sales: $754 million
Retail Banner: Harris Teeter
No. of Stores: More than 200
Chairman & CEO: Thomas W. Dickson
Private Labels: Harris Teeter, H.T. Traders, Hunter Farms, Harris Teeter Naturals, Earth Wise, Oak Creek, Ocean Song, Marques de ValCarlos, Barrel Trolley, yourpet, yourhome, yourtot, yourbaby, yourhome
PLNews: Harris Teeter made the Stores Top 100 Retailers list for the first time, coming in at No. 80.
PL Grocery Sales: $296 million
Web site: www.nashfinch.com
Retail Banners: Sun Mart, Econofoods, AVANZA, Family Thrift Center, Pick ‘n Save, Family Fresh Market, Prairie Market and Wholesale Food Outlet
No. of U.S. Stores: 46
President & CEO: Alec C. Covington
Private Labels: Our Family, Value Choice, IGA, Piggly Wiggly
PL News: Earlier this year, Nash Finch launched a new private label program with the hopes of increasing its penetration by offering its retailers better margins if they agree to stock Nash Finch’s private label products.