As vice president, private label for Montreal-based Metro Inc., Marie-France Gibson oversees a private brand program boasting multiple brands that cover more than 4,200 SKUs, representing more than 20 percent of Metros sales. It’s quite a job — and Metro also refreshes or creates more than 1,000 store brand products each year to keep the portfolio fresh and in line with customer needs.
Under Gibson’s leadership, Metro’s private brand team takes a customer-centric approach to product development — and even a local one when possible. For example, the retailer’s store brand tea infusions and cookies are made by Quebec-based suppliers. The majority of Metro’s private brand products, in fact, are made by Canadian suppliers.
Metro’s private label team also has worked hard to enhance the health quotient of its products — by adding products to the better-for-you Irresistibles Life Smart line and by reducing sodium and sugar in a number of other private brand products.
With Gibson’s help, Metro’s private label team also has done incredibly well in recent product and packaging-related award programs, more than holding its own against larger competitors. Back in 2014, Metro’s Irresistibles private label took three of the six private label awards at the 2013 Canadian Grand Prix New Product Awards, presented by the Retail Council of Canada. According to Metro, the Grand Prix winners are selected by a jury consisting of consumers, journalists and members of the grocery industry.
The winners are honored at gala that takes place the following year.
The winning products include Irresistibles Life Smart Mucho-Mango Smoothie in the Beverages category, Irresistibles Dark Chocolate Covered Mini Sorbet Bars in the Confectionery, Snack & Dessert category, and Irresistibles Gluten Free Cheese Ravioli in the Prepared Food & Entrées category.
In 2015, Metro found itself a three-time winner again in the 2014 Canadian Grand Prix New Products Awards. The winning products include Irresistibles Life Smart Juice Blend in the Beverages category, Irresistibles Dish Soap in the household products category, and Irresistibles Flatbread in the Prepared Foods & Entrées category.
Store Brands also honored Metro in its 2015 Store Brand Packaging Awards. The retailer took home a Gold Award in the Shelf-Stable product category for its Irresistibles Olive Oil Spray packaging, as well as a Gold Award in the Beverages category for its Irresistibles Country Blend Ground Coffee packaging. It also was the Silver Award winner in the Refrigerated & Frozen Food category for its Irresistibles La collezione Sorbets.
Metro performed well in the 2015 Salute to Excellence Awards, too, presented by the New York-based Private Label Manufacturers Association. The retailer won overall for its Irresistibles Dark Chocolate Greek Yogourt Cheesecake in the Cakes & Pies category, Irresistibles Bacon & Cheddar Stuffed Burgers in the Main Dishes category, and Irresistibles Cashew Chewy Bars in the Gluten-Free category.
Gibson’s stellar work on Metro’s private label team builds on her earlier experience and successes. Prior to joining Metro, Gibson held different management positions with major food retailers in Canada, where she was eventually responsible for the development and implementation of own-brand strategies, as well as merchandising efforts.
Please join us in congratulating Marie-France Gibson as Store Brands’ first-ever Retail Executive of the Year!