Articles by Tom Stephens

Tom's Column

Last month, I wrote about the need for retailers to think about their fresh and local developments.
This month, we have been visiting two very different international markets - thousands of miles apart and yet facing all the same problems of how to attract and retain customers. Both markets have very similar situations; some very dominant retailers slugging it out daily for a bigger share. Both markets have reasonably robust economies and are not facing the same problems that so many countries are in terms of political and economic unrest.

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Tom's Column

We are often exhorted to look more closely at things. Numbers. Packaging. Consumers. Habits. Trends. The list is endless. How long is it since we looked more closely at our sources? The encouragement from consumers to buy local has long been evident, but how are we doing on that front?
As retailers, we see farmer’s markets springing up all around us. It’s been a trend for nigh on 20 years, folks. Yet how does our PL program reflect this?

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Health Watch!

March is here and hopefully the vicious storms and disruptions are behind us. But we still have stormy outlooks all around us. The economy. Our jobs. Our business future. Our health. Politicians are wrestling with health care the world over as boomers are aging and kids are getting bigger. As the political and medical worlds struggle with the Armageddon of failing health care systems and aging populations, it is time for us to review where we stand, and what we are doing as producers and sellers of the world’s diet

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Oh to be in England. Somebody wrote that once, when away from their home and lamenting being absent for a long time. I am lucky I get to be in England (my home country) fairly often. For so many reasons, but specifically this month, I will examine at close quarters the private label scene. It’s a good thing sometimes to take a good focused look at a highly-competitive market to try and glean insights and examples of best practices that we can bring back to our own businesses.

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The Year Behind and the Year Ahead

Thinking about the year behind us, what jumps out? We will each of us have our stories to tell. Most of the trends that have emerged and will continue to are not immediately based on private label, but scratch the surface and all are impactful on our PL businesses. It’s a question about how smart we are in discerning the opportunity gaps.
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Last month I wrote about creating destination products. This month, I have been travelling with a couple of really seasoned and experienced road warriors. These are the folks that travel the world (literally) seeking out the vendors, the products and the trendsetters that drive the business of the world’s great private label retailers. These are the people that develop programs like Carrefour’s Reflets de France, Boots’ No7 and Costco’s seasonal candies from around the world.

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Ever since spending quite a lot of time in Texas in the late 80s and early 90s, I have always liked the expression “all hat and no cattle.”

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Thinking Inside the Box

Just as many are thinking about life for private label post-recession, and just as many are thinking about life in host country South Africa after the World Cup, we should all be thinking about where we go with our programs after whatever event we are working on now.

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Thinking Inside the Box

What the retail industry needs is a hand-in-hand collaboration to get data clean, transparent, transferable and instantly accessible from all points at all times, says Tom Stephens.
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Thinking Inside the Box

In his last column, Tom Stephens gave retailers his suggested "top five" business resolutions. This time, it's the manufacturers' turn.

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Image Galleries

November 2014 New Food Products

This month's new food products are Flours, crepes, lollipops, several candy items, pancakes, dip, fish, raisins, pizza, almond milk, peanut butter, and a breakfast bowl.


Coming with a clear, comprehensive plan was the key to success for Longo Brothers Fruit Markets when the grocer decided to roll out a two-tier private label strategy, Jenny Longo and Robert Koss tell PLBuyer editor Chris Freeman in this podcast.

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Private Label Buyer Magazine

PLB November 2014 cover

November 2014

The November 2014 issue of Private Label Buyer - its last issue - includes articles about the retailer as manufacturer and OTC/healthcare items, as well as category insights on pizza and household goods. Check it out today!

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