True Value’s Kevin Rewerts, divisional VP of merchandising for automotive-pet-farm & ranch, said the co-op’s five-year plan to grow the farm-and-ranch-and-pet business by $100 million is on track.
In an interview with HCN, Rewerts added that the pet division is taking on a retailer’s-best-friend role at the co-op, and has emerged as the fastest growing category at True Value.
“We’re seeing very high double-digit increases in pet,” Rewerts said, pointing to increases in both the number of dealers getting into pet and the number of dealers adding shelf space to existing pet-related assortments.
“Our best members carry pet and use pet as a focal point of their store,” he added.
Some 300 new pet brands are available to True Value dealers, including dog food brands Royal Canin and Iams. The company also rolled out is own private-label True Value brand – Pet Expert dog food and dog treats. It was launched June 16 after about eight months in the making.
When he did his own product testing of the treats, Rewerts says dogs in his neighborhood “gobbled them up like candy.”
While the pet category brings hardware stores into competition with some big national chains, Rewerts says the projected $60 billion industry has no single dominant channel. Therefore, independents have an opportunity to break in.
“Most people who buy from retailers buy from two or three retailers for their pet needs,” he said.
Pet not only drives traffic into the store, he said, it leads to incremental purchases. “That’s why the hardware channel is loving this business,” Rewerts said.
The Chicago-based co-op has three years remaining on its five-year, $100 million, farm-and-ranch growth plan.