7-Eleven Holds First Private-Label Summit

7-Eleven Inc. held its first-ever Private-Label Summit in Dallas on Oct. 28-29.

The two-day event provided the company’s private-label suppliers the opportunity to meet with its category managers and product directors and attend a formal Private-Label forum.

The purpose of the collaborative program was to educate 7-Eleven supply partners about the company’s business strategy and private-label growth plans.

Sixty people representing 35 suppliers attended the conference, including the first 7-Eleven private-label supplier of food for the company Barrel of Fun, which provides bagged chips for 7-Eleven stores’ 7-Select brand.

“We had 100% participation from every supplier we invited,” said Tom Gerrity, 7-Eleven senior product director recently promoted to oversee the company’s  Private-Label program. 7-Eleven President and CEO Joe DePinto kicked off the meeting to demonstrate the company’s commitment to growing its private-label and proprietary brands.

After the summit, vendors said they were most impressed with 7-Eleven’s openness as a partner to share information and the business strategy.

“Our suppliers told us they’ve never had this kind of business relationship and really believe 7-Eleven wants a true partnership with them,” Gerrity said. “They are committed to grow with us, assist in bringing more new and innovative products to the market and help us find ways to raise consumer awareness about the 7-Select brand.  Suppliers and 7-Eleven are focused on driving out costs to help Franchisees maximize their gross profits.

Gerrity said there are plans to meet more frequently with suppliers as a group. Also, 7-Eleven will develop opportunities to engage Franchisees, have them sample products and provide feedback for what would work best in stores.

By year-end 7-Eleven will roll out 265 SKUs in U.S. stores.  In 2010, the company expects to build a selection of 300 SKUs, with some national products becoming regional items. This December, private-label frozen foods will be available in all U.S. 7-Eleven stores, including 7-Select frozen items, like whole pizzas and mozzarella cheese stick appetizers. In Canada, the private-label program will start with non-foods offerings in January, when customers can purchase 7-Selectpaper goods, office supplies, automotive and personal care items.

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