• Kroger has appointed Juan De Paoli as vice president of its private label division, a spokesperson confirmed to Grocery Dive.
  • De Paoli previously served as senior vice president of private label for Ahold Delhaize, a position he left one year ago, according to his LinkedIn profile. He also worked at private label manufacturer Topco Associates and as a director in H-E-B’s own brands department.
  • De Paoli takes over the position formerly held by Gilliam Phipps, who departed Kroger in April 2020 to become head of marketing at Sprouts Farmers Market.

Private label is a major business for Kroger, accounting for more than $26 billion in sales last year and spanning more than 10,000 products across popular household brands like Simple Truth, Private Selection and HemisFares. And it’s a division the grocer takes significant pride in, frequently calling out its sales growth during earnings calls and touting new product developments to consumers.

Juan De Paoli
Courtesy of Kroger

In De Paoli, Kroger has selected an executive with experience heading up private brands for a major grocery chain. He joined Ahold’s store brand division in 2013 and became senior vice president of private brands a few years later under Ahold Delhaize USA’s Retail Business Services. During his roughly seven years at the companies, De Paoli worked in a division that scaled brands like Nature’s Promise and introduced new ones like Taste of Inspirations.

Prior to his time at Ahold and Ahold Delhaize, De Paoli worked for just over a year as a vice president at Topco Associates, which manufactures store brand products for retailers. Between 2000 and 2012, according to his LinkedIn profile, he was in a senior management role in H-E-B’s store brand division. Before that, he worked in various positions across marketing and consulting, including working as a brand manager with Procter & Gamble.

De Paoli’s appointment was first reported by the Retail Brands Institute.

De Paoli will have big shoes to fill. Phipps, the last person to hold the title of VP of Our Brands at Kroger, grew the division into an industry leader by focusing on developing unique products and not just alternatives to national brand items, as retailers have done in the past. It’s a strategy that’s taken hold across the grocery industry as retailers gravitate toward the higher profit margins and opportunity for differentiation that store brands offer.

Kroger’s private label division also includes an extensive network of production facilities that turn out everything from milk to Cuban sandwich-flavored potato chips. During the supply chain shortages that have plagued retailers and suppliers in recent months, Kroger has been able to ramp up production at its private label facilities, CEO Rodney McMullen said during the grocer’s earnings call in September.

In a statement emailed to Grocery Dive, Stuart Aitken, Kroger’s senior vice president and chief merchant and marketing officer, praised De Paoli’s ability to connect with shoppers and spot emerging trends.

“Juan’s more than 20 years’ experience in building and growing world-class brands for national and private-label products is paramount to the continued growth and innovation of our leading brands, including Simple Truth, Private Selection and Kroger, among others,” he said.