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NOTABLE QUOTABLES

Comments from senior execs during December and January conference calls with securities analysts.

“The pace of the shift back to normal consumer behavior has been slower than we initially expected, and that pressured our volume, performance and mix in the second quarter. That said, the tide appears to be turning… During the second quarter, we did invest in certain key businesses to assess consumer response to increased brand-building stimulus. Most noteworthy was our largest frozen business, single-serve meals, where we deployed high quality merchandising nationally. The results were very encouraging, with lifts up to 60%, which ultimately drove meaningful gains in our market share… The net of this is while consumers are still stretched, they are responding to high-quality brand-building stimulus. And when you look at the volume trends, while not yet positive, you can see that progress is clearly underway.”

Sean Connolly, CEO, Conagra Brands, Jan. 4

“While many factors have evolved in line with our expectations — including moderating levels of input cost inflation and price/mix, as well as a return toward historical price elasticities — we’re seeing consumers continue to display stronger-than-anticipated value-seeking behaviors across our key markets, and this dynamic is delaying volume recovery in our categories.”

Jeff Harmening, Chairman & CEO, General Mills, Dec. 20

“Our cost structure at this moment is not acceptable on ice cream…[the] cost structure needs to be adapted. One of the reasons is that ice cream is competing more and more [with] pure ice cream players. If you think about it, 10 years ago, 15 years ago, ice cream com- petition was very much companies like ours that also had ice cream. Now, you see more pure play. And it means that we need to make sure that we run the ice cream business as an ice cream business.”

Hein Schumacher, CEO, Unilever, Dec. 14

“Our goal is to increase the mix of our fresh food, proprietary beverage and private brand offerings to 34% of merchandise sales by 2025. This is a big opportunity for SEI to, number one, grow sales; two, expand margin (as proprietary product margins average mid-to-low 40s versus national brand margins in the low 30s; and three, further differentiate and strengthen our product
assortment, which is a key competitive advantage… We have plans to augment our private brand portfolio by adding over 200 items in 2024, while we remain dedicated to continuously enhancing the quality of our core items.”

Stan Reynolds, President, 7-Eleven Inc., Jan. 11

“[We’re] relooking at our own label and determining where we can drive significant [gains]. We’re at 19% or some- thing like that now. I’d like this to be at 40% in five years.”

Tim Wentworth, CEO, Walgreens Boots Alliance, Jan. 8

“More than 90% of our new stores and relocations will be in one of our larger store formats…[which] provide additional opportunities to serve our customers, including expanded cooler offerings to help them build meals to feed their families, more health and beauty products, and fresh produce in many stores… Nearly 70% of remodels are planned to be in our DGTP format, which will provide the opportunity for a significant increase in cooler counts as well as the potential to add fresh produce.”

Todd Vasos, CEO, Dollar General, Dec. 7

 

“[Today] Kirkland Signature relative to non-gas sales is in the high 20s. [More than a year ago] when inflation was in the 8% and 9% range… we saw probably the biggest increased penetration [year-over-year] of Kirkland Signature at Costco. It was [up] 1 to 1.5 percentage points when, historically, it had been 25 to 50 basis points a year. I think we’re back to that. We’ve maintained that higher level, [but] we’re back to seeing smaller increases in penetration every year.”

Richard Galanti, CFO, Costco, Dec 14

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