Casey’s to make store brands a top priority

Dan Ochwat
Executive Editor
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Casey’s General Stores is out to “reimagine” its merchandising in stores, and a bigger private brand program is a “major priority,” per the retailer’s chief merchandising officer.

“We currently have a pretty limited private brand assortment across the typical categories like bottled water, snacks and candy, as well as some non-food items particularly in automotive,” said Tom Brennan, Casey’s CMO, in an interview with Store Brands. “We have big plans to refresh and expand our private brands offering, and it is a major priority for us in the coming year."

Tom Brennan

Brennan was hired by Casey’s in October 2019, having spent 11 years with 7-Eleven (a private brand powerhouse) in leadership roles in merchandising, category management and more. He most recently served as COO of CKE Restaurants Holding, parent of Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s, and is joined by other recent hires with a food and merchandising background. Casey’s also recently tapped Adrian Butler as CIO, who came from Dine Brands Global, parent of IHOP, and Target before that, and hired restaurant veteran Michelle Wickham as its vice president of food service.

Casey's CEO Darren Rebelez is only in his first year, too, leading a chain that recorded $9 billion in 2020 earnings.

The fresh talent could be a signal that Casey’s is serious about building out its new merchandising, a strategic objective they’re calling: “reimagining merchandising.” The retailer has more than 2,200 stores across 16 states and Brennan said they are open for business to find new manufacturers and products that resonate with its diverse guest mix.

Casey’s has signed on with the platform RangeMe to source new products for the merchandising strategy and that includes affordable private brand partners.

“We will continue to expand the way we provide differentiation to our guests, both through our private brand program as well as exclusive partnerships,” Brennan said. “These two areas will help set us up to win with our guests by providing affordable choices as well as new and innovative products they can only get at Casey’s. Needless to say, we are excited about what we have in the pipeline.”

He added that working with RangeMe will help the retailer reach suppliers with products in the market that “we may not have been able to find efficiently on our own.”

The reimagining strategy is looking to bring products that guests are looking for today, that are relevant now, he said, saying the company will lean on learnings from the past 50 years, too.

“Our goal in reimagining merchandising is to become more relevant, more engaging, and more convenient in providing our guests with the products they want, when they want them across the entire store. We know that providing the most compelling assortment we can for our guests will help us realize our company purpose in making their life better every day,” Brennan said.

We have big plans to refresh and expand our private brands offering, and it is a major priority for us in the coming year.
Tom Brennan , chief merchandising officer, Casey's

The retailer has a strong foodservice program already, with its popular pizzas and self-serve beverages, and Casey’s only intends to get stronger there, too. “In regards to our prepared foods and dispensed beverages we are dedicated to instilling a restaurant mindset at Casey’s focused on innovation, quality and consistency,” he said. “Delivering delicious food and beverages on the go, including our famous and delicious Casey’s pizza, is what we are all about.”

RangeMe is an ECRM company, a leading online platform that streamlines new product discovery between suppliers and retailers. Nicky Jackson, CEO of RangeMe, said Casey’s is dedicated to working with brands that give their stores a strong regional impression. “With more than 150,000 suppliers on our platform, and more joining every week, there is a vast capacity to create a destination experience where their guests can come to find the products they love."