A&P Plans More Publicity for Private Label

A&P, the supermarket chain that owns Pathmark and Super Fresh, is rolling out new marketing and packaging for its private label brands this month.

The move comes as other retailers, most notably Wal-Mart, have put more energy into their private label brands, which undercut their branded counterparts in price. Last month Wal-Mart introduced new marketing and packaging for its Great Value store brand.

A&P, also known as the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co., will now sell more than 2,500 “high-quality, value-conscious food and other grocery products” across its portfolio of 10 store brands, according to a release from the company. Such labels include Green Way, Hartford Reserve, Via Roma, Market Spa and America’s Choice, A&P’s most popular brand, which includes a wide variety of products from frozen items to health & beauty aids.

The expansion includes everything from “fresh and gourmet foods” to “organic and eco-friendly products” to “healthcare and petcare related goods,” the company said in a statement. The new offerings will be sold across A&P’s network of 444 stores in eight states. A&P’s other supermarket brands include Waldbaum’s, Best Cellars, Food Emporium and Food Basics. A&P’s third quarter sales were $2.1 billion versus $1.3 billion for the previous quarter.

In a January earnings call, A&P CEO Eric Claus told analysts the company would significantly ramp up its private label offerings. “We put considerable effort into re-branding, packaging and consolidating our private label portfolio driving our overall company penetration to over 17.5 percent,” he said, adding that A&P was closely monitoring its store brands’ prices. “We ensure that we have the right prices for the right competitor and we do always pick the lead price competitor in every market that we price against,” he said.

Added Jennifer MacLeod, A&P marketing svp, in a statement issued today: The effort “comes at a crucial time, as consumer battle through the recession and are in need of the highest quality products at the best value…through [our] ‘Own Brands’ we reaffirm our commitment to offering a breadth of brands and products that cater to every shopper’s needs,” she said.

Private label consumer sales increased from $75 billion in 2007 to $82.9 billion last year, per Nielsen data from the Private Label Manufacturers Association. Sales of national brands, on the other hand, grew by just 2.8 percent.