COLTON, Calif. -- Beginning this Friday, Aug. 1, Stater Bros. here will begin one of the biggest product launches in its 67-year history with the introduction of Dining In, the ready-meal line from Topco Associates, according to executives.
Earlier this year, Stater Bros. joined Topco as a new member of the Chicago-based cooperative. While chain officials declined to give details on the program, industry sources said Stater Bros. will sell about 45 stockkeeping units across multiple categories, including frozen, fully cooked meat entries, fresh, service deli, meals to go and bake shoppe bread categories, in the Dining In line.
The retailer will also begin converting its other private-label products to Topco brands, sources said. Its Entrees Made Easy will be replaced by Dining In, and its Best Value will eventually be converted to Topco's Value Time.
Stater Bros. is fully endorsing and promoting Dining In throughout its 157 stores. Last week, the retailer set up tents in its warehouse parking lot to serve Dining In lunches to some 1,100 employees, including truck drivers, warehouse employees and main office personnel. Store employees were also introduced to the convenience-oriented line that is now being sold exclusively through 32 other Topco members' stores. Stater Bros. store employees got a chance to taste and learn about the line through special in-store demos.
Said one source familiar with the program, "You've got everybody at Stater buying into this program, and senior management is the one that's pushing it. When they buy in, it's a success. It's a priority for everybody."
Dining In will be promoted to Stater Bros. shoppers over a three-day period with in-store samplings conducted by Mass Connections, Cerritos, Calif. Shoppers who buy three Dining In items will receive a gift card worth $5. Redemption is through an 800 number that shoppers must call, and they are asked to answer five questions about Stater Bros. They then receive a PIN number to redeem the gift card. Full-page newspaper ads and other media will be used to promote Dining In.
The convenience-oriented Dining In line was initially rolled out earlier this year to 17 Topco members. Besides Stater Bros., other members who have recently made a commitment to the line include Shaw's Supermarkets, Schnuck Markets, Affiliated Foods Midwest and Affiliated Foods Southwest, according to Topco.