In a league of our own

    ELIT ROWLAND speaks to Craig O’Connor, managing director of Deebee, about how own-label is helping retailers to stay competitive

    Elit: How important are own-label products to your business?

    Craig: Own-label is a strong loyalty builder – it links consumers to our retailers’ stores and retailers to our depot. After the Today’s-Nisa split, we replaced all our Heritage lines with Today’s Select & Essentials, which offer up to 40% profit on return on single products. We stock all 105 lines and have enjoyed a good uplift in sales.

    Are they popular with your symbol stores?

    Yes, we have 40 Today’s Local symbol stores and 80 retail club members. Own-label products are vital to them all because they compete in a difficult market. Our symbol stores are growing all the time – we’ve just recently opened a 2,500sq ft Today’s Local in Grimsby and a smaller store in Alford.


    • Today’s Group member
    • 60,000 sq ft depot size
    • 40 – Number of symbol stores
    • 80% Delivered; 20% Cash & carry
    • 30,000 Live SKUs
    • 4,000 Customers
    • News: Just opened 2,500sq ft Today’s Local in Grimsby


    Does the range suit your customers’ needs? How about the packaging?

    Retailers don’t want their shelves to be cluttered with hundreds of lines. The range offered by Today’s is concise and focuses on items that deliver a quick return, so everyone’s a winner. The brand looks good too – we think that Today’s Select wouldn’t look out of place sitting next to Tesco’s Finest.

    What are your best-selling own-label lines?

    Two-litre drinks, biscuits, toilet tissues (4-pack), fruit juice and cat litter, which sells particularly well. Petcare is one of the few categories that the multiple retailers haven’t managed to dominate; people still like to buy pet food from their corner shop. The next product we’d like to see join the own-label line up is dog food.
    How much influence do you have over what Today’s launch next?

    We have regular meetings with Hilary, Today’s own-label trading controller, who lets us put together a ‘wish list’ of products. She’s done a great job and always takes our views into account. But it’s not just us, all wholesale members are working with Today’s on new product ranges to add to what we have. Another item we’ve been asking for is own-label nappies – we know there’s a good market for this at the moment.
    Do you get any support with promoting own-label lines?

    Yes, Today’s Group helps us to shout about new lines immediately, via the retail club promotion programme. We are also given full point of sale and shelf-edge labels. They also support our trade exhibitions – we have two a year. Up to 50 suppliers and around 500 retail customers attend. Every time we launch a new Today’s Local store, the team come along to support it – they are very proactive.
    What are the biggest challenges with own-brand?

    Some retailers like to stock lots of own-label lines, sometimes even conflicting ones from different wholesalers. But it’s important to be loyal to one brand – our symbol stores are disciplined and have good compliance rates. This helps to build loyalty throughout the supply chain.


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