Private labels a tool in battle with Amazon

Frank isn’t just another name at Canadian Tire Corp. Ltd. It’s a secret weapon in the retailer’s battle with e-commerce powerhouse Amazon.com Inc.

Frank, a line of household goods ranging from garbage bags to cashews, is one of a number of private labels that Canadian Tire has launched over the past few years to draw more customers – and keep them away from its low-cost cybernemesis.

By touting its own brands such as Frank, Woods and Outbound (camping gear) which aren’t available elsewhere, Canadian Tire is trying to stop consumers from comparing its products’ prices with those at Amazon, and switching to the online retailer. Canadian Tire is even toying with the idea of eventually selling its private label lines internationally, potentially on Amazon.

“We have an asset now that not only provides us with a defence against that scenario I talked about with Amazon, but we can actually use Amazon outside of Canada as a competitive tool … to enter new markets,” Allan MacDonald, president of Canadian Tire’s retail division, told a Bank of Nova Scotia back-to-school conference last week. “So there’s nothing stopping us from putting our Woods assortment on Amazon in the U.K., for example.”

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