MINNEAPOLIS -- Supervalu here plans to invest more effort in private-label merchandising and development, Jeff Noddle, chairman and chief executive officer, told shareholders at the company’s annual meeting here yesterday. “We’ve completed a review of our own brands, and we see opportunities to significantly reduce and enhance the number of labels,” he said. According to Noddle, 35% of shoppers’ baskets contain some private-label items, “so we have a large opportunity to drive sales with our own brands.” During the meeting Noddle also announced a 3% increase in the company’s dividend, which will boost the annual payout to 68 cents per share from 66 cents. Supervalu also said it elevated Pete Van Helden to executive vice president and president, Retail West. Van Helden most recently had been senior vice president and president, Retail West. He is responsible for retail operations in Southern California, Nevada and the Intermountain West region. Van Helden joined Supervalu through the company's 2006 acquisition of Albertsons, where he had been president and chief executive officer of Albertsons' California Food Division.
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