A&P tries again with store brand

Seven months after its Canada's Choice private label brand was called for a little-known foul, the Great Atlantic & Pacific Company of Canada is back on the scrimmage line and ready to go.And this time around, the Ontario grocery retailer does...

Seven months after its Canada’s Choice private label brand was called for a little-known foul, the Great Atlantic & Pacific Company of Canada is back on the scrimmage line and ready to go.

And this time around, the Ontario grocery retailer does not expect its offensive attack will be grounded by an obscure play violation in the federal government’s rule book.


About three months from now – for competitive reasons, it is not saying exactly when – a&p will introduce a new mid-value private label brand called Equality.

The Equality brand name is a replacement for Canada’s Choice, which a&p launched last May but was ordered to pull almost immediately by the Department of Agriculture.

According to department officials, the brand name, Canada’s Choice, too closely resembled the grade name, Canada Choice, used to rate the quality of processed fruits and vegetables.

With the memory of that fiasco fading thankfully into the background, a&p is looking forward to reaping the benefits of what Canada’s Choice was originally intended to accomplish.

Currently, a&p markets a mish-mash of mid-level house brands in its various store chains.

The company operates 260 stores in the province under the a&p, Dominion Stores, Miracle Food Mart, Ultra-Mart and Super Fresh banners.

(a&p, Dominion and Miracle each market products branded with their respective store banners.

Super Fresh markets a&p brand and Ultra-Mart, Miracle brands.)

Gord McCullough, a&p’s director of corporate brands, says the consolidation will result in significant operational savings and provide the company the opportunity to create a ‘single, well-known brand.’

As well, he says the improved economies of scale will make it viable to introduce house products in many categories that would be inefficient if handled store by store.

The Equality name was developed by Toronto package design firm The Watt Group, a division of Cott Retail Brands.

Cott, which develops private label brands for a variety of grocery retailers, is majority-owned by Loblaw Companies, a major Ontario grocery retailer and a competitor of a&p.

Although the Equality logo is being kept under wraps, it is understood the design of the script is such that the letter ‘E’ merges with the ‘q’ so that what jumps out is the word ‘quality.’


It is understood the brand name is intended to convey the idea that the products are high in quality or equal in quality to national brands.

John Lee, president of Taxi Advertising, the agency behind Oshawa Foods’ recently launched Our Compliments house line, terms the choice of the name ‘interesting.’

He questions whether the word ‘equality’ has ‘more to do with political and social issues than grocery store items.’

Still, Lee points out that ‘until you see it in the context of packaging and all the support it will receive, it’s hard to make a judgment.’