IPLC Opens Office in North America

We are pleased to announce that Sandra Farwell has joined IPLC. Based in Toronto, Canada she will run the office in the position of Partner Northern America.

Sandra has over 30 years experience in the International Private Label Market, leading buying and Private Label teams across food and non-food categories.
Sandra started as a food buyer at Marks & Spencer and then moved over to Loblaw Companies in Canada, where she progressed to Senior Director of Merchandising. She developed many Private Label ranges across ambient, frozen, fresh and non food.

She became a Vice president of Private Label at Walmart Canada and then took over as a Walmart International Global Officer of Private Label in the United States. She oversaw Private Label programs in 10 different countries including China, India, Mexico, Canada, South America and the UK.

“With Private label sales growing significantly in North America as the cost of living increases, it is a great time to open a North American IPLC office.

In Europe, Private Label sales already account for a much larger chunk of grocery purchases than North America. So it will be beneficial to share learning and experience from the 9 European countries IPLC currently operates in, with North American suppliers and retailers.

I look forward to adding my expertise of North America to IPLC’s team of International consultants”.

Koen de Jong, Managing Partner IPLC:
“We are delighted with the arrival of Sandra because it finally gives us the opportunity to open our first office outside Europe. After Europe, Canada and the US are markets with the highest market share for Private label.

We see great opportunities to link the expertise built up on both sides of the ocean and thus provide our clients with an even better service.

Sandra will establish a Private Label Group modeled on the 14 groups that IPLC already has in 9 European countries. In addition, she offers her knowledge and experience to European producers of Private Label who wish to enter the American or Canadian market or who already supply there”.

For more information or to contact Sandra directly:

Supercharge your Business for your Next Trade Show

Trade shows can be an effective way for businesses to showcase their products or services, network with potential clients and partners, and gather market intelligence. We regularly discuss trade shows with commercial directors in our Private Label Groups and gather that most of the preparation time is dedicated to the logistics of the event: stand preparation, samples, arranging events for own employees and/or clients, accommodation, transport, etc.


Only a few are really prepared for what needs to happen during the show itself. As former buyers, we encountered numerous suppliers with impressive stands, but barely any preparation for discussion with potential buyers. Retailers send their buyers expecting them to be as effective as possible. Efficient meetings are therefore crucial for the buyer, but often the buyer is faced with unprepared potential suppliers. The buyer has to explain in detail about their retailer, their position in the market, their quality, ESR and logistics requirements, before they can even start talking about what specific products may be suitable for them.


A trade show is an ideal platform for suppliers to meet potential new customers and, when a buyer comes to your stand, it is imperative to make the most of the time you have to spend with them, making the maximum impact possible. Crucially, you don’t want to jeopardize any future potential relationship with a poor performance during the show.


Therefore, for your next trade show, if you want to make the most use of the buyer’s availability (and make them happy):


  1. Determine your goals: What do you want to achieve at the trade show? Do you want to generate leads, showcase your products, network with potential partners, or gather market intelligence? Identifying your goals will help you focus your efforts and allocate your resources effectively.


  1. Research the trade show: Find out as much as you can about it, including the size, demographics, and local retail environment. Look for opportunities to stand out, such as by participating in a panel discussion or sponsoring an event. And obviously understand the local retail dynamics by visiting stores in the local area.


  1. Promote your participation: Use social media, email marketing, and other channels to promote your participation in the trade show and encourage people to visit your stand.


  1. Prepare marketing materials: Develop materials that clearly communicate the value of your products or services adapted to the market environment and potential leads.


  1. Train your team: Ensure that your team members are knowledgeable about your products or services and are prepared to answer questions from potential clients and partners. Make sure that people know each other roles and that there is always someone on the stand.


  1. Book meetings ahead of the show with your current and potential customers. Buyers are very busy during the show opening hours and appreciate a specific time to meet you on your stand. Ensure you prepare fully, understanding the buyer’s current range and their retailer requirements along with the retailer’s current performance in their markets.


  1. Follow up after the trade show: Don’t let potential leads go cold. Follow up with anyone you meet at the trade show within a few days to reinforce your value proposition and encourage them to take the next step.


In addition to these general steps, you may want to consider focusing on the following areas specific to private label products:


  • Highlight the unique features and benefits of your private label products.
  • Demonstrate the value proposition of your private label products for retailers and other businesses.
  • Showcase the range of private label products you offer, as well as any customization options.
  • Discuss your private label manufacturing capabilities and capacity as availability may become crucial for retailers.
  • Share any relevant case studies or testimonials from customers who have successfully used your private label products.


You might be thinking that simply being present is sufficient, but well-prepared teams will achieve a higher number of leads during trade shows. Use this unique momentum to grasp the attention of potential buyers with a clear and unique message.


If you need support to ‘supercharge your business for trade shows’, contact us to find more about our dedicated private label approach.

Being the best Private Label operator

It is vital to focus on a few critical key areas to become a best in class operator

By Koen de Jong and Paul Stainton

The private label market can be characterised as a quasi monopsony. This is a market form in which a few very powerful buyers interface with many suppliers. It results in very fierce competition amongst suppliers, made even more intense due to an overcapacity in manufacturing in almost every category.

Without retailers, manufacturers of private label products simply cannot get their products in front of the consumer. For a manufacturer, a contract to supply a retailer may represent a significant proportion of its overal sales. For the retailer on the other end, one contract will represent only a small fraction of its overall business. This considerably increases the bargaining power of retailers.

In these difficult market conditions, the private label supplier must have a clear vision and strategy to ensure they are an efficient operator and a supplier of choice for their retail customers. It is vital to focus on a few critical key areas to become a best in class operator.

Below we highlight three of them.

Managing complexity in production

As individual retail customers have their own specifications for products to be supplied under private label, the manufacturer often has hundreds of different stock keeping units (SKUs) to deal with, creating huge complexity in the production factory.

Mistakes can often be made if a wrong ingredient or packaging component is used. With high-speed filling lines, the consequences can be quite dramatic. Furthermore, it is a challenge for a manufacturer to keep machine downtime to a minimum. Another consequence of this enormous variety in the product range is the need to hold relatively high stocks, tying up working capital, not only of finished products (in order to be able to react to orders promptly) but also of raw materials, packaging and auxiliary materials. To reduce the risk of packaging material or exclusive raw materials becoming obsolete, excellent stock-keeping procedures must be in place.

Efficient allocation of resources and driving out costs

Private label manufacturers work in a highly competitive market, often having to deal with relatively one-sided trading relationships. Therefore, it is of vital importance to a private label manufacturer to handle both labour and capital with extreme efficiency. Furthermore, there is the constant looming threat of losing the supply contract to a cheaper competitor. It is therefore essential to remain competitive by keeping a very keen eye on the costs base of the company as a whole. A branded manufacturer is often able to absorb forced price reductions or a rise in production costs as it generally has better margins. Alternatively, there is the possibility of reducing marketing and product development expenses.

This, however, is a luxury unknown to the private label manufacturer. As a rule, competition is fierce, and it is a constant battle for manufacturers to try and keep costs down as they simply do not get away with inefficiencies. It is characteristic for the private label industry to put a very lean structure in place and to continuously, and sometimes almost obsessively, attempt to cut costs. Cost culture, in both thought and action, has to be deeply ingrained in the company’s fabric.

In attempting to reduce costs, activity-based costing can provide managers with important insights into the factors that are of influence on the total costs within the company. Traditional costing systems often fail to accurately determine the actual costs of production and the costs of related services. Consequently, managers make decisions based on inaccurate data, especially where multiple products are involved as is the case in a private label organisation.

Instead of using broad arbitrary percentages to allocate costs, activity-based costing seeks to identify cause-and-effect relationships to objectively assign costs. Once costs of the activities have been identified, the cost of each activity is attributed to each product to the extent that the product uses the activity. In this way, areas of high overhead costs per unit can be identified and attention directed to finding ways to reduce the costs or to charge more for costly products. If multiple products share common costs that are not allocated to the correct products, there is a danger of one product subsidising another. Activity-based costing is of great value for product and customer portfolio analysis.

Competing on elements other than just price

The successful players in the European private label industry are capable of creating added value on top of the physical product. Although this is difficult to measure, it can be of significant importance in the consideration by the retailer to award a contract to a new supplier or to remain with the existing one. The ways in which to add value on top of the physical product in order to compete on other elements than price alone will be explained in one of the upcoming IPLC Newsletters.

Contact us should you would wish to learn more about how to become a best in class private label operator on info@iplc-europe.com.

In the next newsletter we will send out in November our colleague Malachy O’Connor will discuss ‘The Art of Negotiating Private Label contracts’.

This is the second newsletter in a series of 12 that we will publish in the coming months. The previous newsletter ‘How to become a private label supplier of choice’ was published on 14 September and can be found on our website. To read more