CHICAGO — Kmart wants to be a dog lover's best friend.
The retailer — which exited the private-label, pet-food business after the massive pet food recall in 2007 — has relaunched its Champion Breed brand, one of several recent changes reflecting an increasing emphasis on private label at the chain.
“We're back in the pet business,” Kim Coovert, Kmart's brand manager of own-brand food and drug, said at IIR USA's Private Brand Movement conference here last week. (See additional conference coverage on Page 49.)
The 120-SKU line includes dog and cat food, treats and accessories.
Champion Breed first launched in 2007, but soon after the launch, the Menu Foods 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. National-brand pet food, treats and accessories remained.
The retailer decided the time was right to reenter the category in private label.
“We felt we were lacking in this area because we have a loyal pet consumer,” Coovert said.
In other Kmart private-brand news, the retailer has created the new position of “own” brand category manager.
The chain is looking to fill two such positions, a first for the company. Having the two positions in place will benefit its private-label business in many ways, including by improving vendor relationships, said Coovert.
“This is exciting because we'll have people completely dedicated to our own-brand business,” Coovert said.
The new management structure coincides with the launch of Smart Sense, a private-label line replacing American Fare. The 1,000-plus SKU line includes food, health and beauty care, and household items.
Kmart, Hoffman Estates, Ill., is a wholly owned subsidiary of Sears Holdings Corp.