What are the main challenges facing Private Labels in the current climate?

In the lead up to the Cleaning Products Europe 2015 conference, Smithers Apex has conducted interviews with the thought-leading experts that are on the speaker panel for the March conference taking place in sunny Barcelona.

In the lead up to the Cleaning Products Europe 2015 conference, Smithers Apex has conducted interviews with the thought-leading experts that are on the speaker panel for the March conference taking place in sunny Barcelona.

Meet the expert: Dr. Jim Gordon, Head of Innovation, McBride

Jim Gordon PhD, BSc. Dr Gordon received his degrees at the University of Edinburgh and has 26 years R&D experience in the Detergent Industry. After spending 10 years at Unilever, Jim then joined McBride and has a wealth of experience in launching innovative Laundry and ADW products in both the Brander and Private Label sectors. He has a number of patents and new product concepts to his name with an expertise in tablets and unit dose concepts. He is currently Head of Innovation which is a role that encompasses everything that is new in Household and Personal Care. He resides in Cumbria in the UK, is married and is currently supporting his son and daughter through university.

Jim will be delivering his presentation during conference day 1 (25 March 2015) on: Innovation in the Detergent Industry - the role played by Private Label

During this exclusive interview with Jim, not only does he share his thoughts on the challenges currently facing Private Labels in the industry and where he perceives the market in the next 26 years, Jim gives us a teaser of what his presentation has to offer: "I look forward to having the chance to challenge the assumption that the Branders drive innovation and Private Label only copies".



Smithers Apex:

Please detail your current role as Head of Innovation at McBride

Dr. Jim Gordon:

It is a new role that was set up to promote Innovation across McBride. The primary function is to identify and assess new ideas that come in and to support the various Development and Packaging teams.


Smithers Apex:

How has the Private Labels market for household care changed over the course of your time at McBride?

Dr. Jim Gordon:

I have been at McBride's for 16 years and would say that the biggest change has been a move from partnership and innovation to a cost driven, short-term approach from our customers. You used to see Brands advertise on television but now it is more about gondola end promotions.


Smithers Apex:

What do you feel are the main challenges facing Private Labels in the current climate and how is this affecting innovation?

Dr. Jim Gordon:

The main challenge is from the heavy promotional spend by the Branders which has slowed the growth in Private Label. However, urgency is one of the main drivers for Innovation since once you stop innovating you find yourself off the pace and in real trouble, so you just have to work more efficiently using fewer people.


Smithers Apex:

Where do you see scope for collaboration across the value chain and where do you think it is essential for innovation?

Dr. Jim Gordon:

I think that some Supermarkets are starting to realise that they will not grow by just trying to out-promote their competitors and that they need to develop and make better use of Private Label to communicate what they stand for. The success of discount chains shows that consumers buy into the private label offer of top quality at the best price but that may not be the message that they all want to get across.


Smithers Apex:

With 26 years' experience in detergents, where do you see the industry in another 26 years?

Dr. Jim Gordon:

All the products currently on sale will have been upgraded many times, even Chanel No.5! I still see the market being dominated by the main players but there will be some consolidation on a global scale and the largest Private Label suppliers will have large operations in the Far East. The carbon footprint will be a fraction of what it currently is and raw materials and packaging will be more sustainable and re-usable.