SCHNUCK ELECTS TO ADD PRESIDENT'S CHOICE LINE

ST. LOUIS -- Schnuck Markets here added 200 stockkeeping units of the President's Choice premium private label to its stable of brands late last month.Schnuck was able to offer its shoppers the President's Choice line because of its June acquisition of the St. Louis division of National Tea Co., which had exclusive rights to the brand in St. Louis. National had been owned by Loblaw Cos., Toronto,

ST. LOUIS -- Schnuck Markets here added 200 stockkeeping units of the President's Choice premium private label to its stable of brands late last month.

Schnuck was able to offer its shoppers the President's Choice line because of its June acquisition of the St. Louis division of National Tea Co., which had exclusive rights to the brand in St. Louis. National had been owned by Loblaw Cos., Toronto, which is the creator and distributor of President's Choice.

Schnuck has exclusive rights to President's Choice in metro St. Louis; Columbia, Cape Girardeau, Hannibal and Rolla, Mo.; southern Illinois, and Evansville, Ind. It is also being allowed to sell the line on a nonexclusive basis in Springfield, Bloomington and Champaign, Ill., and in metropolitan Kansas City, Mo.

The line is being introduced to Schnuck shoppers with introductory promotions, in-store displays and in-store sampling of selected products.

The retailer said it is also evaluating and testing other President's Choice products as it considers expanding its initial product selection.

"This President's Choice program is an offensive marketing strategy to increase Schnuck's overall penetration of private label," Marie Casey, a Schnuck spokeswoman, told SN.

"It is also a good vehicle to retain former National customers who had purchased President's Choice. It creates another reason for them to continue to shop at Schnuck's," Casey said.

Casey said Schnuck did not discontinue items to fit the President's Choice line in, opting

to reduce facings of existing products instead.

"Some things may be dis-continued over time, but Schnuck's customers will decide that. Schnuck's will evaluate the data on each item and where there may be duplication they will consider eliminating some products to continue efficiencies," she said.

Casey said the fate of Schnuck's existing upscale private-label line has yet to be determined. In addition to more than 1,500 Schnuck's label products in every supermarket category the retailer offers its customers "It's No Secret" Schnuck's Super Soda, Schnuck's flavored waters and Schnuck's Select cookies.

In a statement, Scott C. Schnuck, president and chief operating officer of the 113-store chain, said the addition of the line should lower food prices in the cities where Schnuck operates.

"Educated consumers know that our store brands pro-

vide excellent quality at value prices. As our store-brand sales grow, name-brand manufacturers lower their prices to compete more effectively and we pass those savings on to our customers. So consumers save on our store brands and they save as name-brand manufacturers lower their prices," he said.

Casey added that the changeover of the 49 National Supermarkets to the Schnuck banner and layout was completed in record time.

"The changeover of the National stores is completed, and accomplished in only three days. Apparently, others in the industry have marveled at it and those faced with similar situations have consulted with Schnuck's to see how it was done. We have an issue of our employee publication that is on press now and is a Life magazine-style photo essay of the conversion," she said.