News & Media

ShopRite on five-year plan to upgrade store brands
April 23, 2019
Source: Store Brands

By Lawrence Aylward

Big changes have come and are coming to ShopRite’s private brands program. The changes began almost a year ago when Chris Skyers was appointed vice president of own brands for Wakefern Food Corp., the Keasbey, N.J.-based parent company of ShopRite, a cooperative of retail supermarkets with about 350 stores in 10 Northeast states. ShopRite is Wakefern’s largest food retailer with more than 270 stores.

Skyers is the quarterback, and he told attendees of the Efficient Collaborative Retail Marketing’s (ECRM) second-annual Store Brands Leadership Summit held at Bally’s Las Vegas Hotel & Casino on April 8 that he wants to take ShopRite’s store brands to 30% market share in the next five years. That market share is currently about 13%.

“We are a house of brands, and converting from a house of brands to own brands is not an easy task,” said Skyers, who spoke to a group of suppliers who attended the Store Brands Leadership Summit as part of ECRM’s “Store Brands Health & Beauty Care,” “Store Brands Foods: Center Store” and “Store Brands Foods: Perimeter of the Store” Efficient Program Planning Sessions (EPPS) held last week.

But Skyers made it clear that he and his private brands team, which contains several new faces, are up to the task and have assembled a five-year plan to achieve their goals. Skyers said consumers will begin noticing ShopRite’s store brand transformation in October.

“There will be a new look and feel,” he said, adding that SKUs will soon grow from 3,200 to about 4,200.

There will also be an emphasis on premium products.

“Premium is a big part of our plan,” Skyers stated.

But before growing premium, Skyers emphasized that ShopRite has to right the ship with its core brand, the $1.7 billion ShopRite private label.

“It suffers from a lack of identity and needs a facelift,” said Skyers, noting that sales of the store brand have decreased. “We need to fix our base. Once we stabilize it category by category, part of the plan is to bring in more premium [products]. Innovation and growth will probably come from the premium section, but we have to fix the core.”

ShopRite currently offers some premium private brands, including Wholesome Pantry (organic and free-from products) and ShopRite Trading Company (artisanal foods inspired by a variety of world cuisines).

Skyers told suppliers that a key to growing ShopRite’s private brands is strategic partnerships with its suppliers.

“We’re not looking for short-term year-over-year negotiations,” he said. “That is a standard RFP (request for proposal) process we would have on the branded side. What we’re looking for here is long-term strategic partners. … To get to 30% market share requires long-term strategic relationships.”

And Skyers emphasized that his team is not looking for the best price. He stressed obtaining products with “the highest quality at the lowest price.”

“We are looking for the highest quality,” he added. “And we will try to negotiate — through good partnerships — the lowest possible cost.”

Skyers also said the company wants to work with suppliers that are innovative and can handle ShopRite’s logistic capabilities.

“They have to have the willingness to scale as we scale,” he added.

To further improve its private brands, Skyers said the company will also begin hiring chefs and also plans to build an innovation center in the next two years.