After yesterday's General Session, I had to choose which of three concurrent sessions to attend. This was no easy task since all three looked newsworthy. I opted for an hour-long workshop entitled "New Directions for Drug Chains." There were few other details about the session, except that it would be moderated by CanAm Care's Christian Strong. I chose this session because SN is working on a story about store brands in drug store chains for an upcoming supplement.
Turns out, Strong was not there. But I was pleasantly surprised who was: Laura Sturdevant, Walgreens' director of product development for private brands. Sturdevant wasn't listed on the agenda, so most attendees had no idea she would be talking.
Sturdevant delivered a detail-packed presentation about the massive private-label push underway at the chain, including the just-launched "Nice" brand.
The food retail industry needs to take note of what Walgreens is doing. The chain manages its private brands the same way the big consumer packaged goods chains handle theirs.
To do so, Walgreens brought in former Kraft Foods executive Maurice Alkemade two years ago and added more staff to its private brands department. The chain no longer manages it private labels in terms of teir respective categories, but as individual brands -just like the CPGs.
"Our goal is to create a CPG company within Walgreens," Sturdevant noted.