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Nice piece in Mass Market Retailer about Loblaw Cos. CEO John Lederer, who told a recent retail conference that he considers the company “not great marketers. We’re very good merchants, but we can be a lot better marketers, in the true definition of the word. After more than 25 years in the general merchandise business we are still neophytes in that sector.’’

Lederer says that one of the things that the company has learned from the quarter-century in the GM business is that the company does “best with anything that is in some way related to food — barbecues, small appliances, kitchen equipment, tabletop — as well as everyday household items, electronics and children’s clothing,’’ he said. ‘‘We do not see general merchandise as a panacea.’’

What has been a panacea for Loblaw has been its President’s Choice private label brand – which has virtually redefined the notion of own-label products – and, increasingly, its Real Canadian Supercenter format, which allows it to preempt and/or position itself against other competition.

Lederer also says that Loblaw plans to continue to upgrade its food offerings as well as expand its service offerings, which currently include gas stations, car washes and a variety of financial services.
KC's View:
One of the things that always has distinguished Loblaw is a willingness not to settle for the status quo, but to stretch itself and try new things. In a competitive and fast-evolving marketplace, being behind the curve usually means that you’ve lost momentum and risk being out of touch with the consumer.

And that’s a potentially deadly combination.