PLMA SALUTES KROGER'S PRIVATE-LABEL PROGRAM AT CONVENTION

CHICAGO -- J. Richard Owens, Kroger Co.'s vice president of grocery merchandising and procurement, has three recommendations for private-label suppliers.''Quality. Quality. Quality," Owens told an audience of retailers, manufacturers and brokers at the Private Label Manufacturers Association trade show here.Suppliers may want to heed Owens' advice, as Cincinnati-based Kroger is one of the top private-label

CHICAGO -- J. Richard Owens, Kroger Co.'s vice president of grocery merchandising and procurement, has three recommendations for private-label suppliers.

''Quality. Quality. Quality," Owens told an audience of retailers, manufacturers and brokers at the Private Label Manufacturers Association trade show here.

Suppliers may want to heed Owens' advice, as Cincinnati-based Kroger is one of the top private-label retailers in the nation. "We are serious about private label at Kroger," Owens emphasized.

Owens' comments were made at the annual Salute to Excellence Awards ceremony, held at the conclusion of the New York-based PLMA's annual trade show. Kroger was given a Salute to Excellence Award for its achievements in private label.

The Salute to Excellence Awards honor companies that have built strong private-label programs, offered high-quality store brands and contributed to the growth of private label. Winners are named in four categories: supermarket, drug chain, mass merchandiser and co-op wholesaler.

Spartan Stores, Grand Rapids, Mich., won in the co-op/wholesaler category. Tom Berg, Spartan's director of corporate brands, accepted the award.

Eckerd Drug Co., Largo, Fla., won in the drug chain category, while ShopKo Stores, Green Bay, Wis., received an award in the mass merchandiser category. Pat Grant, senior buyer, accepted for Eckerd, while Larry Vick, vice president and divisional merchandise manager, received the ShopKo Stores award.

The retailers and wholesalers were nominated by the PLMA and then judged by a trade press jury, which consisted of editors, publishers and reporters from 10 trade publications, including SN. The Salute to Excellence Awards ceremony is an annual event.