CHARLESTON HEIGHTS, S.C. -- Piggly Wiggly Carolina here, with 115 stores, signed Topco Associates, Skokie, Ill., this month to supply private-label health and beauty care items under the Top Care label. In doing so, Piggly Wiggly will drop its Price Wise store brand, manufactured by several different sources.
According to Mike Mock, category manager for nonfood at the Piggly Wiggly group, the retail franchiser sought a supplier with "more dependable" service levels. "Now we will get the products when we place an order," he said. "We couldn't count on that with the present suppliers."
Initially about 155 stockkeeping units will be introduced to Piggly Wiggly stores, with plans to expand the line extensively, said Mock. Under the Price Wise label there were about 100 SKUs. "We will add all the HBC items that we can compare to those of the national (branded) manufacturers," he noted. Retail prices in the line range from 99 cents to $6.99.
Meanwhile Norristown, Pa.-based Genuardi's Family Markets, which joined Topco as a member last year, also introduced this month its new Top Care line under an exclusive deal in its 33 stores in Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey. Fleming Cos., Oklahoma City, Okla., had supplied the retailer with its Marquis label.
"This association will help us to ensure that we can obtain the best prices and products to pass on to our customers," said Rich Juliano, vice president of marketing. "Topco has tremendous purchasing power, enabling us to become more competitive in the marketplace. The affiliation will give Genuardi's exclusive rights in its marketing area to Topco products and services," he added. The chain will add the private-label line to five new stores planned this year.
"Topco's quality assurance was one reason Genuardi's joined the program," added Juliano. "Topco has its own lab which tests thousands of samples and assures that these products meet their specifications," he said.
Genuardi's merchandises approximately 250 Top Care SKUs and "offers savings of 30% to 60% over national brand equivalents," said Juliano. The line is being displayed at endcaps and standing shippers. Shelf talkers and point-of-purchase material indicate savings to consumers.
The retailer is also heavily promoting Top Care in weekly circulars, newspaper ads and newsletters. The first week of March circular offered shoppers items on buy-one, get-one free offers, a third off the price of Top Care vitamins, and switch and save discounts.
For Topco, the addition of the Piggly Wiggly Carolina and Genuardi's is "significant," said Curt Maki, vice president of nonfood. "The Genuardi's name also gives us a presence in a geographical area where we haven't had a presence for a long time," he noted.
The addition of the two chains brings Topco's membership to 25 supermarkets. Topco has recently lost several members due to industry consolidations, Maki noted. He said consolidation in the food channel is impacting relatively small chains and independents. "They are becoming less significant to the very large suppliers who find it's not cost efficient to promote and service the smaller groups." Maki said Topco is pursuing regional supermarket chains "that wish to maintain their own identity but still want to leverage volume and get all the services of large chains."