Reuters Summit-UPDATE 3-Wal-Mart revamping Great Value

By Nicole Maestri

July 15, 2010 Updated Mar 16, 2009 at 7:01 PM CDT

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Wal-Mart Stores Inc is
relaunching its Great Value private brand with more than 80 new
products and distinctive packaging as the world's largest retailer
looks to win business from increasingly price-conscious shoppers.

Andrea Thomas, senior vice president of private brands for
Wal-Mart, told the Reuters Food and Agriculture Summit in Chicago
on Monday that the relaunch of Great Value, the country's largest
food brand in both sales and volume, includes new items such as
double-stuffed sandwich cookies, frozen pizza and organic
cage-free eggs.

Wal-Mart has also changed formulas for 750 products under the
brand, which includes thousands of products across more than 100
food, beverage and household product categories.

Great Value was first introduced in 1993, and Thomas said the
packaging is being updated to feature pictures on a white
background, making it easier to spot the brand on its shelves.

The new packaging will also give the line a consistent
appearance across the store.

"The packaging is simple, it's clearer and it's much easier to
find," Thomas said. "We've created a package with better pictures
on a white background so it really pops off of the shelf, and that
makes it easier to find when they go aisle to aisle on their
shopping trips."

Wal-Mart has said that its private brands are becoming more
important as consumers look for ways to stretch limited budgets
amid the recession.

As shoppers run out of money in between paychecks, they are
trading down to buy cheaper private brand products instead of
national brands, Wal-Mart said.

Thomas said the gap, on average, between the price of a
national brand and a private brand is 5 percent to 20 percent.

Thomas said she has worked for 18 months on the relaunch,
which includes some new items, reformulated items and existing
items in new packages. Some reformulated products include cereal,
cookies, yogurt, detergent and paper towels.

TRANSITIONING TO THE NEW GREAT VALUE

The new Great Value items will begin rolling out this month,
with the entire brand in the new packaging by the end of the
summer, Thomas said.

She said no markdowns are planned on existing Great Value
items. Instead, Thomas said that in some stores consumers will see
the old Great Value packaging sitting on shelves next to the Great
Value items in new packaging, as Wal-Mart sells through the
current inventory.

While Thomas declined to disclose the cost of the relaunch,
she said customers should not see any change in the prices they
pay for Great Value items.

"We've carefully designed this so that the price of the
product wouldn't go up," she said. "Prices were not impacted by
the relaunch."

But she also said Wal-Mart will watch the brand to make sure
it holds its own against national brands and deserves the shelf
space it is being given.

"We have to earn our way just like our national brands," she
told Reuters TV.

She also said that shoppers will be able to write reviews of
its Great Value products on Wal-Mart's website, although it is not
possible to buy its groceries online.

Most of the revamped Great Value packaging will list product
description and nutritional information in English and Spanish.
Thomas said the exception to that will be on packages that are too
small, such as cans of tuna or yogurt.

"Everywhere we could put it, we did," she said.

In an effort to appeal to the fast-growing Hispanic
population, Wal-Mart is opening two supermarkets targeting
Hispanic consumers in Arizona and Texas. The stores will be called
Supermercado de Walmart.

Wal-Mart shares closed down 39 cents, or less than 1 percent,
at $48.80 on the New York Stock Exchange.
(For summit blog: http://blogs.reuters.com/summits/)
(For more on the Reuters Food and Agriculture Summit, see
[ID:nSP463170])
(Additional reporting by Martinne Geller and Ben Klayman; Editing
by Phil Berlowitz)

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