Corner store chain developing private label

With the recent launch of a second product under the Riverdale brand name, Irving Oil of New Brunswick appears to be creating a line of private label products for its huge chain of convenience stores.The new Riverdale potato chips are being...

With the recent launch of a second product under the Riverdale brand name, Irving Oil of New Brunswick appears to be creating a line of private label products for its huge chain of convenience stores.

The new Riverdale potato chips are being sold exclusively in the innumerable Irving convenience stores that dot the Atlantic provinces and eastern Quebec.

Those Irving gas bars that want to carry the product will also be permitted.

Irving, a family-owned and conspicuously reticent company, will not reveal the exact number of convenience stores and restaurants it owns, but the number is surely in the hundreds.

The arrival of Riverdale potato chips follows the launch of Riverdale soda this past summer, described as ‘very successful’ by Marc Gosselin, Irving convenience stores general manager.

Irving will not confirm it is going to extend the Riverdale line, but the unwillingness of the company to actually deny it outright suggests such a move is at least a strong possibility.

‘We are looking at different things, but there are no immediate plans,’ Gosselin says.

‘We have a lot of homework to do before we start speculating,’ he says.

Because of strict recycling laws, the soda is not available on Prince Edward Island.

Both products were launched for the first time in Quebec last week, but neither will be put on Irving convenience store shelves in Maine.

The Riverdale soda line includes regular and diet cola, lemon-lime, orange, and cream soda, and is available in cans and two-litre bottles.

The new potato chip line includes plain, rippled, barbecue, and salt and vinegar, and will be available only in 180-gram bags.

Gosselin says no national brand chips have been removed from the convenience store racks, but there has been some rearrangement to accommodate the Riverdale product, which has optimum placement.

The Riverdale name was chosen to give the impression of freshness, cleanness, and healthiness, and the packaging is bright and colorful, with a graphic of the rising (or setting) sun identical to that on the soda label.

Profit

Profit is the primary motive behind the development of an Irving private label brand, according to Gosselin.

He says these products are expected to be moneymakers in their own right, not just loss leaders.

According to Nielsen Marketing Research, the Maritime potato chip market (which excludes Newfoundland) for large size bags, grew 6% to nearly $40 million in the year ending in October 1994.

National buyers

‘We were only getting the percentage of clientele that buy national brands, we were not getting the percentage that buy private label,’ Gosselin says.

‘We decided to get our own private label to make sure we were servicing 100% of the clientele,’ he says.

Irving will not confirm, but Humpty Dumpty Foods is the suspected supplier of the chips, given that Murphy’s Potato Chips, a division of no-name brand leader Cott, concedes that it bid for the account and lost.

Atlantic Refreshments of Scoudouc, n.b., a subsidiary of Cott, produces the Riverdale soda.

The price for the 180-g. bag of chips is $1.29 ($1.39 in Newfoundland), compared with $1.89 for the national brands.

The soda sells for $3.69 for a 12-pack, about 40% less than Coke and Pepsi cost in the Irving stores.

The launch will be accompanied by advertising created by Olive Communication in Montreal.

The introductory launch in Quebec is marked by radio and newspaper advertising using the theme ‘Joyeux Cola et Bonnes Patates!’

The advertising also offers coupons for rebates on both Riverdale products.

Mailers are being used in appropriate areas in Quebec, but not in the Maritimes.

The Maritime campaign, running in eight papers in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, uses the headline ‘Merry Cola and Happy New Chips!’ and also includes coupons.

The English radio spot for the Riverdale brand was created in-house in conjunction with Cott.

p-o-p material for both campaigns includes danglers, window posters, lapel pins, and counter cards for local contests offering prize packages of Riverdale products.

The ads will run throughout the holidays. AB