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Walmart to expand its opening price point private label nationwide in late third quarter

BY Michael Johnsen

BENTONVILLE, Ark. – Walmart plans to launch its opening price point private label, Price First, nationwide in late third quarter, executives told analysts on Friday. 
 
The Price First line has focused primarily on consumables, as peanut butter, baking mixes and condiments are among the items being offered on the first tier of a good, better, best marketing strategy. Walmart has piloted the Price First line across 400 stores in the Southeast since last fall and will now be expanding distribution across its entire store base. 
 
"These initiatives are about changing with our customer," said Doug McMillon, Walmart president and CEO. "We’re pushing to save [our customers] time and money, both in store and online," he said. "Customers are rational. They respond to low prices, innovative products and the service they expect. So, we must run stronger stores everywhere we operate, with better merchandising, in-stock levels and quality service. I’m confident that we can improve comp sales as we deliver on these priorities, and I’m bullish on our core business."
 
To ensure customers are in fact getting the best price at Walmart, the discount retailer two weeks ago rolled out a program called Savings Catcher nationwide, which leverages Walmart's data analytics capabilities to automatically match competitors’ ads, and "strengthen customers’ confidence that they are receiving the lowest advertised price on like items," Greg Foran, Walmart U.S. president and CEO, told investors. 

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Mars names Jean-Christophe Flatin president of global chocolate division

BY Vivian Gomez

MCLEAN, Va. — Mars has appointed Jean-Christophe Flatin as president of global chocolate, effective Oct. 1. Flatin, who currently is global president of Royal Canin, a unit of Mars Petcare, replaces Grant F. Reid, who recently moved into the role of office of the president for Mars.

As head of the global chocolate business, with such brands as M&M's, Snickers, Dove, Galaxy, Mars, Milky Way and Twix, and a growing population of more than 17,000 employees, Flatin will be responsible for setting the global agenda for all aspects of this dynamic business. He will be a member of the Mars leadership team, reporting directly to the office of the president.
 
"We are very pleased to have a leader of Jean-Christophe's caliber at the helm of the global chocolate business," Reid said. "Jean-Christophe's proven leadership, strategic mindset and background in finance and general management will help continue the growth of this important segment within our business. It's always fantastic when we live out our goal of promoting from within our own business. Appointments like this remind us of how fortunate we are to have such depth and diversity of talent within Mars."

Since becoming president of Royal Canin in late 2007, Flatin has led his team to become one of the fastest-growing business units at the Mars. He has held various roles at or collaborated with Mars for the past 22 years.

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McDonald’s, Kraft will bring café experience to store shelves

BY Ryan Chavis

OAK BROOK, Ill. — McDonald's and Kraft are collaborating to bring McDonald's McCafé brand to retail shelves across the United States, beginning in early 2015. The packaged coffees will give consumers a convenient way to enjoy the McCafé experience in their own homes.

"We understand there is huge demand for at-home options, and we've built great success with our McCafé coffee in restaurants. So, it was a natural next step to provide customers with McCafé coffee to enjoy in their own home," said Greg Watson, SVP McDonald's U.S. menu innovation. "We have always been committed to serving delicious, high-quality beverages at a value, and we're happy to provide consumers another great way to enjoy McDonald's McCafé coffees."

Consumers will see the following coffee formats and varieties when the product launches:

  • Roast and Ground: Premium Roast, Breakfast Blend, French Roast, Colombian, Premium Roast Decaf, French Vanilla, Hazelnut and French Roast Whole Bean (12-oz. bag); and
  • Single Cups: Premium Roast, French Roast and Premium Roast Decaf.

The partnership between the two companies places them both in a lucrative position in the at-home coffee category, according to Nina Barton, VPcoffee for Kraft Foods.

"This partnership will allow us to leverage each company's best-in-class capabilities, putting us in a prime position to drive further category growth and deliver one of America's largest, fastest-growing coffee brands to coffee lovers nationwide," Barton said. "By tapping into the loyal McCafé fan base already built by McDonald's and leveraging our deep coffee category expertise here at Kraft, we have the ability to reach a larger audience than ever before, really giving this brand room to thrive."

 

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