Chris Skyers & Laura Kind of Wakefern to Speak at the Velocity Conference

I am proud to announce that we have added another exciting pair of speakers to this year’s Velocity Conference Chris Skyers Vice President of Private Label and Own Brand and Laura Kind, Director of Brand Marketing and Packaging, Own Brands for Wakefern Food Corp. The pair join a groundbreaking roster of executive speakers from Walmart, Kroger, Publix, Boxed.com and more. The conference will be held April 29 – May 1, 2019, at the Le Méridien in Charlotte, NC.

The pair will present:

Wakefern’s Own Brands Journey

In light of the ever-changing consumer and competitive set in the market, a new and refocused division has been put together at Wakefern to relaunch its Own Brand presence in the market.  Through careful evaluation of sourcing partners and an in-depth understanding of our consumer and how she has changed, we look to shift our current Own Brand sales penetration from 12% to 30% within the next several years.

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Chris Skyers is responsible for overseeing Wakefern’s dynamic portfolio of private label brands – including Wholesome Pantry and ShopRite Trading Company – and leading the team that develops the innovative products that set trends in their categories.

Skyers has spent nearly two decades at Wakefern, providing leadership and direction for banner brands including ShopRite, Price Rite Marketplace, The Fresh Grocer and Dearborn Market. Since joining Wakefern’s Human Resources team in 1999, Skyers has served different divisions as vice president, procurement manager, category manager and procurement analyst. A thought leader in the food industry, Skyers was named Merchant of the Year by Mass Market Retailers in 2015.

Skyers earned his bachelor’s degree in Human Resources from St. Leo University in St. Leo, Florida and his master’s degree in Organizational Development from Manhattanville College in Purchase, New York. He lives in West Orange, New Jersey with his wife Karen and their two girls – Justine and Sabrina.

Laura Kind leads all marketing and packaging design for the Own Brands portfolio at Wakefern Food Corp., the largest retailer-owned cooperative in the United States.  Laura is responsible for the brand architecture and re-definition of the company’s current Own Brands as well as the visual identity and aesthetic of each of these brands.  Kind also leads the multi-channel marketing of the Own Brands portfolio.

Laura is new to Wakefern, starting with the organization in December 2018, but has spent the past thirteen years of her career leading brand development and strategy.  Starting in the world of fashion apparel, Laura has developed brands for some of the most prestigious retailers in the country, including: Bloomingdale’s and Saks Fifth Avenue.  Most recently she conceived and developed Uniquely J for Jet.com, a Walmart eCommerce company.  In 2018 she and her team won the Vertex award for best of show design for Uniquely J.

Although Kind’s career has shifted from fashion to the world of consumer packaged goods, her focus remains the same; singular and passionate focus on the consumer and her needs.  Where there is a consumer need, she brings her creativity and dedication to creating differentiated design and product experiences.

Laura earned her bachelor’s degree in opera performance from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. She resides in Manhattan with her husband Aaron and their sons, Asher and Jax.

Tickets are selling fast. Don’t Miss your opportunity to learn more about Wakefern and meet Chris and Laura.

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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.