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Kroger to Serve Up Private-Label Apparel Line

Increasingly, clothes are on the menu at supermarkets.

The latest chain to serve up a side of apparel is Kroger. The grocer, which operates its namesake stores as well as Fred Meyer and a variety of banners across 35 states, announced Friday that it’s launching a private-label collection dubbed Our Brands, across men’s, women’s, juniors, young men’s and kids.

While this isn’t the company’s first foray into apparel, it will be its first private-label collection. The activewear-inspired line is described as playful, simple and uplifting.

“This new brand gives Kroger a chance to inspire and connect with our customers, offering effortless style every day–from elevated basics to fashionable highlights,” said Robert Clark, Kroger’s senior vice president of merchandising. “This new offering is on-trend, convenient, and right in line with our customers’ needs.”

Clark added the line represents “an immense opportunity for growth in sales, share, and loyalty.”

The line will debut in 300 Fred Meyer and Kroger Marketplace doors, or just over 10 percent of its food stores, in Fall 2018.

Kroger’s new apparel push comes at a time when clothing is playing a bigger part of the grocery wars, with big-box competitors continuing to eat into the groceries sector, Amazon just gobbling up Whole Foods, and German chains Lidl and Aldi are hungrier than ever for a piece of the American pie.

Amazon’s new grocery fleet gives it one foot in the brick-and-mortar grocery business while it simultaneously ramps up its own private-label apparel lines.

Meanwhile, Lidl, which is know for its rock bottom prices, is reportedly rolling out a second Heidi Klum clothing collection ahead of the holidays. The chain will also host “Lidl Fashion Weeks” throughout the year during which it will feature select apparel collections in stores.

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For its part, Aldi announced in June it would expand from 1,300 stores to 2,500 by the end of 2022, making it the third largest grocery store by store count in the U.S. The chain, which appeals to penny-pinchers, offers apparel and home goods at accessible prices.

Walmart is beefing up its apparel offering through acquisitions of digitally native companies like Bonobos and Modcloth, which could figure into the chain’s new online mall concept along with Lord & Taylor, according to reports.

Target’s attempting to take a bigger bite out of the grocery market by moving food to a prominent position in the front of its redesigned stores and providing curb-side pickup for shoppers on the go. The retailer is also replacing stale private-label apparel brands with fresh collections in men’s, women’s and kids.