President's Choice is the in-house off-label ("generic") brand at Ralph's as
well (celebrating it's 125th year in SoCal). This is not surprising since Star
and Ralphs and Giant (sponsor of the It's Academic TV show which was my claim
to fame, thank you very much) a whole bunch of other chains are actually owned
by a Dutch giant.
Now, let's dig on the internet to see if my recollection was correct:
First, the table of contents to a market research study on the potential for
private label foodstuffs, particularly the premium brands and particularly
PC's leadership in cookies. "special attention is paid to growth in Canada".
Unfortunately, the report is a bargain $2150
It's also evident from a site debunking a TV ad that ran in Canada that PC
actually DOES have premium branding up North. I have never seen ads for PC in
the US outside the store; it is a low-price competitor with a premium package.
Nalley's, for example, manufactures PC's chips and salty snacks. There are
lots of gif labels of canadian junk food to admire here:
As does Select, maker of PC's squishy stuff (mayos and pickles and so on)
Finally, paydirt: a news bit in Private Label / Exclusive Brands News
Interchange (a trade zine) about the ownership of PC:
Putting Loblaw Companies' Private Label Commitment in Perspective
Next year, *Loblaw Companies Limited, Toronto, Ontario, Canada--that country's
largest retail and wholesale food distributor--will celebrate its 20th year
with its no name program of low-priced generic products... Its no name
program, of course, also has been augumented with Loblaw's successful
President's Choice unique and premium products program. (Some of these items
also continue within The Drug Store Pharmacy.) Apparently, neither program has
lost steam, according to the latest tally report from Loblaw: For the past
three years (1993-96), the company's total Canadian sales have increased by
23%, while its controlled label sales (no name and President's Choice) sales
have leaped ahead by about 41%!
---> so "that country" has been sucking something out of my cookie buying
budget all along. Harumpf. Keep going: Loblaw's public pitchman for PC has
been striking out. I can only imagine what a beer named Dave's really tastes
Dave's next choice
For the second time in four years, Dave Nichol, Canada's gourmet guru, is out
of work. Quitting his job at Loblaw's in 1993 as product developer, division
president and public pitchman he set out to create an international
private-label food conglomerate. Nichol, along with Gerry Pencer, the chair,
president and CEO of Cott Corp., created Destination Products International
Inc., a subsidiary of Cott. Unfortunately, Nichol's dream abruptly ended.
Last month, Cott the private-label soft drink manufacturer that Nichol helped
put on the map as the supplier of Loblaw's President's Choice cola announced
it was writing off DPI after only two-and-a-half years of operation. The Oct.
31 issue of Canadian Business (p. 26) outlines the whole chain of events
leading to the demise of DPI. "I've asked myself, How could all this have been
prevented?" says Nichol. Many critics believe the operation was destined to
fail from the start. "In my mind, the ambition that Cott had with DPI was way
too complex and way too broad," says one critic, Bill Dowd, former VP of
operations at Cott. Dowd correctly predicted that too much cash, attention and
resources would be drained from Cott's soft-drink side. But despite this
failure, Nichol is busy cooking up more plans. He wants to arrange for the
introduction of more products like "Dave's" beer licensed through Molson
Cos. Ltd. where he's the product developer and public pitchman. Nichol is also
looking into a venture closer to home...his retirement.
FINALLY, the other answer. Hoover's Online spit out that my hometown chain was
being bought up by Dutch giant Royal Ahold (come to think of it, I've called
some of my bosses that...).
Royal Ahold is a holding company for retail operations around
the world, owning or franchising about 3,200 supermarkets,
hypermarkets, cash-and-carry, discount, and specialty stores
on four continents. The largest supermarket chain in its native
Holland, it is also the top supermarket operator on the East
Coast of the US (mainly under the BI-LO, Giant, Tops, and Stop
& Shop names). It will grow even bigger in the US with its
purchase of Giant Food Inc., which is unrelated to its existing
Giant stores. Royal Ahold also has liquor and confectionery
stores, an institutional food supply company, and 73% of
Schuitema, a leading Dutch wholesale food distributor. The
company is rapidly expanding in Asia.
Star Market, fwiw, was a part of Jewel Food, but it LBO'd into Investcorp SA,
which I immediately suspected was the petro-dollar firm that bought Saks, but
I thought "no way!" and man, yes way it is:
Known for reviving the upscale Saks, Tiffany, and Gucci,
investment firm Investcorp has also bankrolled the less
glamorous Circle K (convenience stores), Prime Service
(equipment rental), Simmons (mattresses), William Carter
(children's wear), and CSK Auto (retail parts). The firm's core
members (mostly Arab) invest what their Iraqi-born but Chase
Manhattan-bred leader, Nemir Kirdar, calls "patient capital"
into Western companies. When business improves, Investcorp
takes each company through a public offering or private sale,
pays off investors, and pockets its share -- usually in a
not-so-patient five years or less. Investcorp has offices in New
York, London, and Bahrain. Management owns about 38% of
Shaw's, for that matter, is owned by the British Sainsbury, plc, which just
sold its stake in Giant. Small industry, isn't it? Well, it should be, what
with average margins of 1.5%!
Finally, as for Ralph's, it's actually owned by Fred Meyer in Oregon -- which
owns one of its "competitors", Hughes (right now the signs of a Ralph's
takeover are emerging in the front lines). FM, in turn, is owned by another
supermarket investment group, Yucaipa.
Blessed be the stockholders, from which all the grains do come.