MAPLE HEIGHTS, Ohio -- Finast here is carrying President's Choice private-label products in its 40 stores in northeast Ohio in an apparent bid to replace its Sensational upscale private label.
The chain, a subsidiary of the Dutch retailer Ahold, will be the exclusive marketer of the President's Choice premium private-label food line in its marketing region.
Initially, Finast's offerings will include more than 100 food items in 24 categories, including cereal, soft drinks, frozen vegetables, pizza, pasta, rice, sauces and snacks. The Finast program will also feature President's Choice's well-known Decadent Chocolate Chip Cookie and other upscale cookies.
"President's Choice is one more part of our commitment to consistently offer a broad selection of quality products at everyday low prices," said William Holsworth, president of Finast, in a statement.
The chain formally introduced the new line less than two weeks ago. It is running ads featuring President's Choice products, and is also using prominent displays and in-store signs to promote the line.
Finast officials declined to comment further on the new program. Industry sources told SN that the President's Choice introduction coincides with the chain's phasing out of the Sensational label, an attractively packaged, upscale store brand that is generally considered a high-quality offering.
"The Sensational brand never really took off here," said one industry observer. "The problem was that it's a little bit better quality than regular private label, and
its prices were higher, sort of in between the Finast label and national brands. This is a tough market for private label because it is extremely low-priced for national brands."
Indeed, several market sources said the emphasis on everyday low prices in the Greater Cleveland marketing area might prove to be problematic for President's Choice as it has apparently been for the Sensational label.
"President's Choice may be a good fit for Finast, but it remains to be seen how strong a factor it will be here, as compared to a high-low market such as Pittsburgh, where such a label would represent a bigger difference from national brand prices," said another source familiar with the private-label climate here.
The President's Choice brand is in 14 U.S. chains in 35 states, merchandised in a total of 1,350 stores.