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Private Brand Explodes at Belk

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So often the Private Brand discussion revolves around packaged goods, grocers and mass merchants so I love to expand the conversation including all types of retailers. I have written about Charlotte, NC based department store retailer Belk before and the nice work they are doing with relevant high quality, great value Brands. This article from the Charlotte Business Journal takes a look at the growth of Private Brands at Belk.

Private brands boost Belk
Retailer sets strategy for adding more lines to private-label business

Belk Inc. officials have seen the future of department-store retailing. And it includes a prominent role for Private Brand merchandise.

As recently as 2002, Belk’s sales of private-label goods generated a mere 5% of the chain’s revenue. Sales of those items — in-house product lines developed by the retailer — have since risen dramatically, says John Thomas, executive vice president of private brands and brand management. He declines to reveal details. But he says the private-brand market is the fastest-growing piece of the Charlotte-based retailer’s business.

It may soon grow even bigger. Belk plans to expand its portfolio of 16 private brands by at least three by 2015, Thomas says.

“Private brands is definitely the future of retail,” he says. “I think the beauty of private brands is you can really tailor them to what the customer wants.”

Such lines often are more profitable than other merchandise because retailers can get products into stores faster and set pricing based on the product, not a competitor’s sale price, Thomas adds.

Belk’s private brands include Red Camel, Kim Rogers and Biltmore For Your Home.

Privately owned Belk saw its sales climb 5.7% to $803.9 million in its first fiscal quarter, which ended May 1. The company has 306 stores in 16 Southern states.

He says private-label brands allow retailers to diversify their product lines. They also help attract customers to stores in search of branded products, rather than being motivated by price, he adds. “This is really how it started in the early days of retail. You went to a store because they had a certain product.”

Belk has a long history of private brands, Thomas notes. Its oldest, Red Camel, a clothing line for young men and juniors, dates to 1931.
Read more: Private brands boost Belk – Charlotte Business Journal

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Simon Doonan is the Cranky Private Brand Elf.

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Barneys New York\’s holiday web movie stars many Barney’s Private Brands and its creative director Simon Doonan taking a humorous turn as The Cranky Elf. This is not for every retailer but it definitely captures the essence of Simon Doonan and is a great commercial for Barney’s.

As Simon says, \”Have a witty Holiday.\”

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Premium Men\’s Private Brand Fashion From Belk

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This past weekend I found myself wandering the local mall or, more appropriately, being led through the local mall by my wife and kids. As we shopped, I found myself thinking back to my recent post “Private Brand has an Executive Vision on CNBC” about the CNBC show “Executive Vision,” which featured Private Brands. The episode included a round table with Tommy Hilfiger, Founder & Principal Designer for the Tommy Hilfiger Group and Steve Sadie, Chairman & CEO of Saks, among others discussing Private Brands. The two carried on a lively discussion about premium fashion brands and the ability of Private Brands to effectively compete in the space.

\"WHBelk\"As if on cue, we walked into Belk. Headquartered in Charlotte, NC, Belk is the nation\’s largest privately owned department store chain with more than 300 stores in 16 Southern states. I grew up shopping in Belk. I can remember my mother and grandmother taking me to shop the store for back-to-school clothes and my first suit. So I have fond memories of the name, the brand and the experience.

Belk now carries a premium men’s clothing brand named after one of their founders, W.H. Belk. The brand includes dress shirts, sport coats and accessories, which, despite Mr. Hilfiger’s assertion to the contrary, completely engaged me—good quality men’s clothing at a great price from a brand I trust. That’s right a brand, in this case the retailer, Belk, made the leap to brand, and I found myself wanting several of the shirts. Unfortunately my family was tugging on my sleeve to move on so I will plan another trip to buy a couple of W.H. Belk shirts.

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Barney\’s Has Private Brand In The Bag.

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Private Brands in upscale fashion seem to be all the rage these days and New York premium department store Barney’s is no exception. Barney’s features this Private Brand under their own label called “The Discreet” ($750). According to the blog Bag Snob the bag has a striking resemblance to a designer handbag the Valextra Boston. ($3,170)   The blog goes on to say: “Barneys has done an exceptionally good job with their private label bag line, tasteful styles with incredible quality.”

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The entire Barney\’s New York Private Brand portfolio features more than 900 products ranging from watches to perfume.

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Lorena Garcia Says Hi!

\"lorenaI haven\’t spoken much of exclusive private brands bu there are many retailers that use this as a significant if sometimes expensive part of their strategy. Target is well known for its many exclusive brands often generated from relative unknowns who Target is able to build to stardom. Michael Graves although widely respected by design and architecture afficionados was relatively unknown to Mom and Dad America. Kohls follows a similar strategy but uses extremely relevant musicians and skateboarder to lend credility and creat relevant brands. Vera Wang now has everything from handbags to skirts to bediing in Kohls, not cheap. Are they all worth the investment given Kohl\’s very active discounting?

Charlotte is home to the corporate headquarters of the largest privately held department store chain, Belks. They have also utilized several exclusive brands with licensing agreements. Here is their home decor cooking brand Lorena Garcia.  According to her website she is one of america\’s leading latina chefs with multiple tv credits. I am not sure I get stretching a latina chef from cookware to bath towels, but maybe it works?