7-Eleven Inc., Dallas, rolls out a line of private label soft drinks in20-ounce bottles, which carry the “Big Gulp” name. The company plans to offer four flavors initially, a Diet Cola with Splenda, regular Cola with pure cane sugar, Mint Lime Twist and Ginger Apple Snap.
In a separate announcement,7-Eleven said it is partnering with Wells Dairy, Le Mars, Iowa, to offer the first freezer-case stirrable soft-serve dessert. Called Stir Crazy and available exclusively at7-Eleven stores, the dessert includes one or two mix-ins separated from the soft-serve dessert by a thin layer of milk chocolate.
Giant Eagle Inc., Pittsburgh, is offering consumers the convenience of refilling their computer printer ink cartridges while grocery shopping. Via a partnership with Island Ink-Jet of Courtenay, British Columbia, Giant Eagle shoppers can drop their empty cartridges with in-store technicians in the retailer’s photo processing departments. Shoppers are expected to experience considerable savings compared to purchasing new cartridges. Island Ink-Jet’s “drop and shop” model operates in nearly 200 kiosk and store front centers in North America.
Saks Fifth Avenue, New York, will discontinue its private label brand and close product development by the end of September 2005. Ronald Frasch, Saks vice chairman, said in a prepared statement: “In the future, our private label initiatives will be … developed by our internal merchant team in conjunction with our existing trading partners.”
Family Dollar Stores, Matthews, N.C., tells financial analysts at the 5th Annual CIBC World Market Consumer Growth Conference that its plan to install refrigerated coolers in 1,000 of its stores by the end of this month is on track. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Howard Levine acknowledges that coolers are part of his company’s broader food strategy to capture more of the customers’ shopping trips by offering perishable products that are purchased more frequently.
On the supplier side:
United Exchange Corp. (UEC), Cerritos, Calif., and Rockline Industries of Sheboygan, Wis., announce a global strategic partnership. UEC manufactures and distributes branded and private label wet wipes and personal care products, and Rockline produces private label converted paper products such as coffee filters and baby wipes. Details of the agreement were not disclosed.
Maple Leaf Foods, Toronto, announces plans to build a $110-million state-of-the-art primary pork processing facility in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. The new facility, which will have the capacity to process 20,000 hogs per week on a single-shift basis, will replace a 65-year old plant operated by Maple Leaf’s Mitchell’s Food subsidiary.
Carter’s Inc. of Atlanta acquires OshKosh B’Gosh Inc. of Oshkosh, Wis., for approximately $312 million, a transaction which retail and financial analysts view positively. Both are powerful brands and both also manufacture an exclusive product line for two of the country’s largest retailers. Carter’s produces the “Child of Mine” line for Wal-Mart and the “Just One Year” brand for Target, and Oshkosh manufactures “Genuine Kids from Oshkosh” for Target.
Leiner Health Products, Carson, Calif., reports sales for the fiscal year ended March 26, 2005, of $684.9 million, up 3.6 percent from $661 million in 2004. The company reports a net loss of $47.9 million which includes a one time recapitalization charge of $88 million. Excluding this charge, net income would have been $25.5 million compared to $39.1 million during the prior year.
Bremner Inc., a subsidiary of Ralcorp Holdings Inc., St. Louis, announces that it will begin production of a variety of cookie products at its South Beloit, Ill., facility this fall. The plant was purchased in February 2005.
Rocky Mountain Brands, Dillon, Mont., announces that it has agreed to supply private label water to Maverik Country Stores, headquartered in North Salt Lake, Utah. The contract, which encompasses 170 Maverik stores in Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, Nevada and Arizona, increases Rocky Mountain Brand’s private label production by 175 percent.
Galaxy Nutritional Foods Inc., Orlando, Fla., reports net sales for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2005, increased 23 percent to $44.5 million from the prior year’s $36.2 million. The company said the increase primarily reflects higher private label revenues and an increase in sales of Wholesome Valley organic products.
Ferrania Imaging Technologies, Woodbury, Minn., announces that ownership of the company has been transferred to FITRA Investements S.P.A., whose shareholder is a consortium of top Italian industrialists.
Correction: In the July issue of PL Buyer announcing this year’s Category Colonel winners, Apollo Health and Beauty Care should have been recognized as a repeat winner in the Bath & Body Products category, having won the category in 2004. Also notable, this year Apollo won the Skin Care Category Colonel Award as well. PLB