Kroger Announces Strategic Partnership to Incubate Brands

Kroger and Lindsay Goldberg, a private investment firm announced earlier this month the formation of PearlRock Partners, a new platform that will identify, invest in and help grow the next generation of leading consumer product brands. PearlRock Partners will be one of the largest data-driven investment vehicles focused on consumer brands. The platform will be a part of Kroger’s alternative profit streams portfolio and an innovative way for Kroger to facilitate the growth of the Kroger brand portfolio outside of the confines of their organization.

To help emerging consumer brands reach new customers and grow their business, the new platform will leverage Kroger’s merchandising capabilities and predictive analytics along with Lindsay Goldberg’s consumer expertise and nearly 20-year track record of investing in and supporting family-owned and founder-led companies.

“We are excited to add PearlRock Partners to our portfolio of high-growth alternative profit businesses that generate additional value from our core grocery business. We are confident this partnership with Lindsay Goldberg will help discover and cultivate new brands that Kroger customers will love,” said Stuart Aitken, Kroger’s senior vice president of alternative business and CEO of 84.51°. “We are transforming from grocer to growth company by deploying our assets to serve even more customers and create margin-rich alternative profit streams.”

Brian Kelley, a Partner at Lindsay Goldberg who previously served as CEO of Keurig Green Mountain and President of Coca-Cola’s North American operations, added: “We are thrilled to partner with Kroger to help grow tomorrow’s most successful consumer brands alongside the entrepreneurs who built them. Backed by a state-of-the-art predictive data platform, real-world consumer product expertise and unparalleled merchandising resources, these next-gen brands will be poised for growth and offer Kroger’s broad customer base greater choice, convenience and innovation.”

Chris Laitala, a Partner at Lindsay Goldberg, stated: “Our partnership with Kroger creates an opportunity to invest in the consumer products industry with unique insights and a competitive edge. Consistent with our track record of making transformative investments with exceptional industry partners, this strategic relationship with Kroger will provide differentiated sourcing and visibility into evolving consumer preferences and brand performance.”

“We are excited about building a long-term partnership with Kroger,” said Eric Fry, a Partner at Lindsay Goldberg.

PearlRock Partners ladders to Restock Kroger, Kroger’s transformational plan to redefine the food and grocery customer experience in America. Through Restock Kroger, the company is leveraging its stores, logistics and data assets to create incremental new profit streams, which, in turn, drive investments to further redefine the customer experience. In this way, Kroger’s new growth model will be a virtuous cycle. The new platform will not only drive new alternate profit streams for Kroger, but will also contribute to the small brand ecosystem, helping emerging brands grow and thrive in Kroger’s stores.

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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.