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Under the Store-Brand Umbrella

Under the Store-Brand Umbrella

After visiting Chicago in Sept. for the Private Brand Movement show, I’m headed back to the windy city for another store-brand event: The Private Label Manufacturers Association’s annual show.

Running Nov. 14-16 at the Rosemont Convention Center, the show will feature about 2,000 exhibit booths and about 4,500 retailers, wholesalers and other attendees.

The event comes at a time when all types of retailers - food, drug and mass - are rolling out comprehensive new private-brand programs. A common theme is new or revamped umbrella brands that cover multiple categories and departments.

Take Kmart. The retailer has launched Smart Sense, a private-label line replacing American Fare. The 1,000-plus SKU line includes food, health and beauty care and household items.

At the same time, Kmart has relaunched Champion Breed, a 120-SKU line includes dog and cat food, treats and accessories. Champion Breed first launched in 2007, but soon after, the massive Menu Foods pet food recall hit, affecting national and store brands alike.

Kmart subsequently phased out its private-label pet program, leaving only Champion Breed dog incontinence/house-training pads and cat litter on the shelves. The retailer decided the time was right to reenter the category in private label.

In another move that signals Kmart’s emphasis on store brands, the retailer created the new position of “own” brand category manager. The chain is looking to fill two such positions, a first for the company.

Then there’s Family Dollar, which has rolled out its new Family Gourmet umbrella brand of groceries. In addition to the 70 items currently rolling out, another 70-plus Family Gourmet products will hit store shelves in January and February. All items are tested against a national-brand equivalent, and backed with a guarantee that the full purchase price will be refunded if the buyer is not 100% satisfied with the quality.