Distribution Roundup: LA Distributing Company Announces Brand Incubator Program

LA Distributing Company Announces Brand Incubator Program

Southern California-based LA Distributing Company (LAD) is looking to mentor new brands through an incubator program set to launch on January 1.

Speaking with BevNET, LAD co-founder and CEO Richard Medina said the company is currently seeking four to five noncompeting CPG brands for the incubator’s inaugural class. The fee-based incubator will last between eight and 12 months, with LAD helping companies entering the California market by providing sales and marketing services.

“Whenever LAD would bring on brands before they were validated in the market, we quickly saw our role of distributor change to consultant,” Medina said. “Now that Haralambos has sold, this is an opportunity for LAD to really drop its anchor in the market as the brand builder, as that filter between fad and trend.”

In addition to brand management and outsourced sales services, the program will also focus on data collection to determine products’ potential for expansion into other markets.

Seeking to capitalize on new trends, LAD will primarily target brands in the CBD and plant-based diary alternative categories, as well as international and out-of-state brands without a current presence in California. Medina said LAD currently receives multiple requests per day from new brands seeking distribution and the company’s leadership team will likely select its inaugural class from brands it identifies as having strong growth potential.

Although the incubator includes fees for brands, Medina said there will not be a formal application process as he does not want companies to believe they can simply pay more than others to “jump the line.”

“I want to make sure we pick the brands that we feel are a good fit for us,” he said. “Our buying strategy is very unique, I like telling people that we are ‘Costco meets UNFI.’ Costco because of limited SKU selection and UNFI because everything we do is trend-forward, better-for-you products. We’ll apply the same strategy and use sales data to see how those trends apply to the people that are in need of support for this incubation service.”

The list of brands accepted into the program has not yet been finalized, but Medina said they will be publicly announced ahead of the January launch.

Omni Partners with Presence Marketing to Provide Ecommerce Services

Ecommerce solutions firm Omni ePartners has partnered with Presence Marketing to develop and scale online businesses for Presence’s portfolio of CPG brands, OMNI founder and CEO Colin Jones told BevNET in a phone call.

According to Jones, Omni — which has offices in Scottsdale, Arizona and Seattle — provides full logistics and marketing services for CPG brands on Amazon, Walmart, and Jet.com. The firm signed a partnership with Illinois-based Presence last month and will now sort through the Illinois-based agency’s brand portfolio to determine which individual companies it will work with.

Jones said Omni currently works with about 90 brands across multiple categories with a concentration on beverage and CPG products, some of which Presence already manages. The firm will focus on companies that have either been managing their own Amazon business internally, through Presence, through an outside agency or are not yet sold on Amazon.

“We’re just going through the qualifying matrix now and comparing our brand list with theirs and it’s going to start to come to life and evolve here within the next 60 days,” Jones said. “From there we have to make sure operationally the brands are sound and understand what it takes to partner with a platform like Amazon.”

Omni ePartners is a full service boutique agency offering end to end managed services to its partners and has been working with Amazon since 2010. Its services include guidance for shipping, labelling and invoicing, managing catalogue variations, search engine optimization, and demand side platform marketing.

CELSIUS Adds 1,100 Kroger Locations

Fitness energy drink brand CELSIUS announced last week that it has added 1,100 Kroger locations nationwide, bringing the company’s total grocery channel footprint to more than 7,000 stores.

According to a press release, product placements began in the second quarter of 2019. The company stated that its total grocery channel ACV has grown from 15% to 24% over the past year, with a 32% growth rate for same store sales.

“In addition to our outpaced growth in this channel, product placement has also expanded from the traditional diet and nutrition aisle to higher volume locations in the energy set, cold cooler front checkout and end-cap displays with additional flavors,” said president and CEO John Fieldly in the release.

Nutpods Adds Target and Walmart

Non-dairy creamer brand nutpods has entered Target and Walmart locations, the company announced in a press release last week.

“We are so proud to have nutpods products available in both Walmart and Target” said founder and CEO Madeline Haydon. “Both retailers have embraced their shoppers’ interest in plant-based and no added sugar options. They see that brands like nutpods are not niche, lifestyle products but part of a growing mainstream shift towards mindful eating.”

Phocus Expands in Texas

Caffeinated sparkling water brand Clear/Cut Phocus has expanded its presence in Texas, going chainwide in all 10 Central Market locations throughout the Lone Star state, the company announced last week.

In addition to Central market, the brand is available in CVS stores nationwide and has expanded its regional presence in Connecticut, Florida, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee.