In the February 17, 2009 edition of the Minneapolis – St Paul Star Tribune entitled “Bob-bobbing along” Matt McKinney reports on Roundy’s and interviews Robert Mariano the chairman, chief executive officer and president of Roundy’s Supermarkets. Several months ago I posted on “Chairman Bob” and the advertising campaign that has been built around him so this interview is an interesting glimpse into Chairman Bob. Bob and Roundy’s plans to grow private brand from around 4,000 items to just over 6,000, this aggressive growth seems to be indicative of much of the grocery industry.
According to Chairman Bob, “We’ve been on a very aggressive effort to grow our own brand presence. The company used to be a wholesaler, and now is a retailer, so we’ve been on an aggressive campaign to add things constantly. It kind of plays right into where the customer is.”
By and large the Roundy’s and Roundy’s Select brands exist as traditional grocery private brands competing head to head as national brand equivalents. But as with most retailers trying to find their way with Private Brands and create points of differentiation, Chairman Bob is trying to encourage innovation at Roundy’s. In discussing product development and selection Chairman Bob said, “It’s very much market-driven, because we’re going to go get products off the shelf and say, “What’s Trader Joe’s doing? What’s Wal-Mart doing?” There’s even a great retailer up in the northeast, Wegman’s, and might ask what are they doing? We’re going to go outside of our market and outside of our stores and say, “What’s really going on here? Who’s cutting edge?”