Kroger & Walgreens to Expand Kroger Express Pilot – Private Brand Shines

Building on an exploratory pilot launched in October 2018, Kroger and Walgreens are adding an additional test area for the retailers, featuring the expansion of Kroger Express and Kroger Pickup at select Walgreens stores as well as the launch of Walgreens’ Private Brand health and beauty products in 17 Kroger stores in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Starting this fall, 35 Walgreens stores in the area will feature a curated selection of Kroger’s popular Private Brand products like Simple Truth and national brand products. The assortment will vary by store and can include fresh meat, produce and dairy, frozen foods, shelf-stable products, and private brand Home Chef meal solutions to provide customers with a fill-in grocery shopping experience. Most locations will feature a full Kroger Express assortment, with up to 2,700 products, and other stores, on average, will offer 2,300 products.

Most of the Walgreens pilot stores will also provide customers with the convenience of Kroger Pickup, enabling shoppers to place a digital order on kroger.com or through the Kroger app for curbside pickup at a participating location.

The Knoxville expansion will also pilot a curated selection of Walgreens’ owned-brand health and beauty products in 17 Kroger stores, also debuting in the fall. The destination will feature several categories, including beauty, personal care, over-the-counter medications and wellness. Walgreens Boots Alliance private brands No7 and Soap & Glory will also be a part of the assortment.

“We continue to redefine the grocery customer experience and partner for customer value through our Restock Kroger transformation plan. Our growing relationship with Walgreens is just one more way Kroger is making life easier and better for even more customers – because everyone deserves to have affordable, easy-to-enjoy, fresh food,” said Jeff Talbot, Kroger’s vice president of new business development. “Expanding our pilot to Knoxville demonstrates the ongoing success and future potential of bringing together the best of Kroger’s food authority with Walgreens’ global expertise in health and beauty.”

“Walgreens customers have responded very favorably to the Kroger Express pilot in Northern Kentucky. As a result, we’re exploring more ways to offer customers an enhanced, more convenient shopping experience,” said Richard Ashworth, Walgreens president of operations. “Working with Kroger, we’re continuing to re-invent our customer offer to meet shoppers’ evolving needs, which includes offering private label grocery and health products at a great value, through an integrated omnichannel experience.”

Launching the original pilot last year in Northern Kentucky allowed Kroger and Walgreens to test-and-learn in a retail setting and source customer feedback and insights, allowing the companies to create a more informed expansion decision. The pilot in Knoxville is a continuation of the test-and-learn approach, and both retailers will continue to assess customer response.

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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.