Whole Foods CEO Walter Robb on Private Brand

Whole Foods- RobbOn Wednesday, December 19th, Whole Foods co-CEO Walter Robb discussed what’s next for the company with stock pundit Kim Cramer on his show Mad Money. Robb said his team is working on expanding its store count, and expects to have 20% Private Brand penetration in the coming years.

Walter Robb:
We’ve talked about this (price competitiveness). Worked really hard on our competitiveness. Quality and value, quality and value, it’s always a dance. I think we are fundamentally more competitive. And I’m looking you in the eye and saying, hey, we are going to be competitive on like product because we’re going to continue to grow the company.

Jim Cramer:
You have been doing terrific work rolling out private label. Is there a balance? Some people want to see those branded products in the store, they don’t want all private label. Other people, some of the branded companies, they can’t be that happy you’re competing directly with them.

Walter Robb:
We found in the downturn, they want their brands and they want the private labels. So I think we will strike a balance, maybe 20% of sales is about the right balance for us. You don’t want to go too much because people won’t be able to see the brand they like. Some of the European companies are 70%, 80% private label, we’re not going to go that far. I think a nice balance of the brands, local companies in particular, and the private labels are right for Whole Foods.


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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.