Yesway's Aspiration: Be the Aldi of the Convenience Channel

A Yesway convenience store

DES MOINES, Iowa — As it grows its presence in the convenience channel, Yesway looks toward another channel for cues to its private label strategy.

Speaking on April 8 at the Efficient Collaborative Retail Marketing's (ECRM) second-annual Store Brands Leadership Summit in Las Vegas, Yesway's Derek Gaskins said the retailer wants to be the ALDI or Lidl of the convenience store channel when it comes to private brands.

"We want to be one of the innovative retailers," said Gaskins, Yesway's senior vice president of merchandising and procurement. "Why can't we be the Lidl or Aldi of the convenience channel? It's an aspiration that we are treating very seriously."

Gaskins spoke to a group of suppliers who attended the Store Brands Leadership Summit as part of ECRM's "Store Brands Health & Beauty Care," "Store Brands Foods: Center Store" and "Store Brands Foods: Perimeter of the Store" Efficient Program Planning Sessions, according to Convenience Store News' sister publication Store Brands.

Gaskins noted that ALDI and Lidl both offer more than a 90-percent assortment of private brands. He said Yesway wants to make private brands a staple of its success. The convenience retailer launched its first private-branded products, under the Yesway brand, this past summer. It currently offers about 40 SKUs, including water, candy and baked goods, and has more than 400 new products in its pipeline.

"When we started, it was about going after the low-hanging fruit," Gaskins said. "[Knowing] beverage was a destination [for our stores], we knew we should have beverages. So we offered water first."

Gaskins said Yesway will soon offer three tiers of private brands: value, national brand equivalent and premium. "We want to go places where national brands in a convenience channel have not been willing to go," he said of premium offerings.

Des Moines-based Yesway operates more than 150 stores in Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, Nebraska, New Mexico, South Dakota and Wyoming.

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