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Monday, 7 April 2014

Cleaning up after retail brands

What should we make of the Robert McBride's share price hitting a five year low?

With the UK grocery price war showing no signs of abating, brands are fighting for their survival and big brands burn big bucks. And nowhere is this more pronounced as in non-food.

For 30 years, retail brands have been a pain in the neck for brand owners. With their complicated mix of value to premium products all at discounted prices to leading brands, retail brands thrive as the price value equation between themselves and major brands becomes harder to justify.

Take toilet tissue.
Asda Shades Toilet Tissue is a scale brand in its own right and has a best price per roll price of 33.3p vs Andrex at 44.4p - even allowing for Andrex having around 10% more sheets, you still save eight pence a roll. How much money are consumers prepared to throw down the toilet?


But the tide is changing. The branded empires are striking back and restoring absolute value to their assets. Narrowed price premiums make brands more desirable and leave retail brands with little room to play. Any own brand margin advantage is quickly eroded.

In the price war, every scalp matters. If you are sitting in Blackfriars or Cincinatti, you may scent blood. Expect an all out branded assault on the UK laundry, cleaning and personal care categories. It's going to get messy. Somebody will clean up. It may not be McBrides.