Fifty2 – The MPB Project: Duane Reade – Skyline

Duane Reade - Skyline - front“Fifty2: The My Private Brand Project,” will present a carefully curated look at the best Private Brands in the U.S. across all retail channels. The weekly series looks at each great Private Brand with insight, Fifty2 The MPB Project Logoanalysis and original photography. In early 2014, these will be published as my first book along with a several new chapters that focus on strategy, packaging and design learnings from the included brands.

I am looking for retailer-owned private labels that are BRANDS – brands that bring their positioning and business purpose to life through great design, purpose, expertise, confidence, emotion, lifestyle and innovation.

To submit a brand for consideration please email

The early months of 2008 were not good ones for New York City’s hometown drugstore, Duane Reade. The retailer who was then owned by a private-equity firm, Oak Hill Capital, was struggling with debt, slow sales, dirty, cluttered stores and perhaps worst of all, unhappy customers. Despite having a huge presence in the New York area and a long history in the city, the retailer was unloved. They were going nowhere fast and desperately needed to reinvent itself to discover the true potential of the retail brand.
Over the last five years the story of the re-invention of Duane Reade and its subsequent acquisition by the drugstore giant Walgreen’s for $1.1 billion in February 2010 has become the epic story of the great American retail reinvention.
The new Duane Reade was laser focused on bringing the retailer’s new brand mantra of “New York Living Made Easy” to life with the optimization, consolidation and reinvention of the Private Brand portfolio. The Private Brand portfolio was to become a key strategic asset in their reinvention. The new portfolio: DR Delish in food, Apt 5 in cleaning and household products, the DR brand in health and beauty, and the un-named barcode or “skyline” brand each deliver on the New York sensibility.
The groundbreaking “skyline” brand features a consistent design that radically places the UPC code front and center. The bar code becomes artwork as it morphs from package to package taking on the shape of iconic New York City landmarks. The design solution is so simple, it elegantly supports the overall New York positioning of Duane Reade and creates an identity, a Brand. A white-based brand with no name and no logo, it boldly proclaims its identity. This is proof that great strategy, vision and design can make a difference.
Unfortunately “skyline” was a victim of its own success and after the acquisition of Duane Reade by Walgreens and the evolution of the Walgreens Private Brand portfolio, Walgreens retail strategy and buying efficiencies meant the “skyline” brand would be phased out. As of this writing there were only three sku’s left in the Duane Reade store on Wall Street.

Brand: “skyline”
Brand Focus:
Duane Reade\Walgreens
New York, New York
2011 USA Retail Sales ($000):
Walgreens – $66,330,000
2011 Stores:
To submit a brand for consideration please email


Previous articleTarget Debuts TV For Threshold Launch
Next articlePB CAREERS: Walmart – Private Brands Manager
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.