Private Brand Explodes at Belk

So often the Private Brand discussion revolves around packaged goods, grocers and mass merchants so I love to expand the conversation including all types of retailers. I have written about Charlotte, NC based department store retailer Belk before and the nice work they are doing with relevant high quality, great value Brands. This article from the Charlotte Business Journal takes a look at the growth of Private Brands at Belk.

Private brands boost Belk
Retailer sets strategy for adding more lines to private-label business

Belk Inc. officials have seen the future of department-store retailing. And it includes a prominent role for Private Brand merchandise.

As recently as 2002, Belk’s sales of private-label goods generated a mere 5% of the chain’s revenue. Sales of those items — in-house product lines developed by the retailer — have since risen dramatically, says John Thomas, executive vice president of private brands and brand management. He declines to reveal details. But he says the private-brand market is the fastest-growing piece of the Charlotte-based retailer’s business.

It may soon grow even bigger. Belk plans to expand its portfolio of 16 private brands by at least three by 2015, Thomas says.

“Private brands is definitely the future of retail,” he says. “I think the beauty of private brands is you can really tailor them to what the customer wants.”

Such lines often are more profitable than other merchandise because retailers can get products into stores faster and set pricing based on the product, not a competitor’s sale price, Thomas adds.

Belk’s private brands include Red Camel, Kim Rogers and Biltmore For Your Home.

Privately owned Belk saw its sales climb 5.7% to $803.9 million in its first fiscal quarter, which ended May 1. The company has 306 stores in 16 Southern states.

He says private-label brands allow retailers to diversify their product lines. They also help attract customers to stores in search of branded products, rather than being motivated by price, he adds. “This is really how it started in the early days of retail. You went to a store because they had a certain product.”

Belk has a long history of private brands, Thomas notes. Its oldest, Red Camel, a clothing line for young men and juniors, dates to 1931.
Read more: Private brands boost Belk – Charlotte Business Journal



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Christopher Durham
Christopher Durham is the president of My Private Brand and the co-founder of The Vertex Awards. He is a strategist, author, consultant and retailer who built brands at Delhaize-owned Food Lion, and lead strategy and brand development for Lowe’s Home Improvement. He has consulted with retailers around the world on their private brand portfolios including: Family Dollar, Petco, Staples, Office Depot, Best Buy, Metro (Canada), TLW (Taiwan) and Hola (Taiwan). Durham has published five definitive books on private brands, including his first book, Fifty2: The My Private Brand Project. In 2017, he will debut his newest book, Vanguard: Vintage Originals, a visual tour of innovation and disruption in private brand going back to the mid-1800’s. Dynamic in his presentation while down to earth and frank in his opinions, he has presented at numerous conferences, including FUSE, The Dieline Conference, Packaging that Sells, Omnishopper and PLMA’a annual trade show in Chicago. Durham lives in Charlotte, NC with his wife, Laraine, and two daughters, Olivia and Sarah.