ISG bolsters private label

Thursday, September 30, 2004

HOLLISTON, Mass. - Invacare Supply Group is now offering private label distribution to HME providers in the hopes of filling a void left in the wound care market after New Brunswick, N.J.-based Johnson & Johnson exited the business last year.

“This is a great opportunity for us,” said Greg Bosco, director of merchandising and marketing for Invacare Supply Group. “That business has yet to recover since J & J left. It has been a tremendous drain on the remaining manufacturers and we’re hoping to pick up some slack.”

Launched in August, the 50 SKUs in the wound care line will sport the Invacare brand name and include specialty products, such as alginate, hydrocolloid and polyurethane foam dressings; and general wound care items, such as gauze, sponges, packing strips and oil emulsion dressings.

The new line augments six other private label soft goods Invacare Supply Group carries, including diabetic, incontinence and orthopedic supplies.

Elyria, Ohio-based Invacare does not manufacture the supplies, but the corporate nameplate has national recognition and private label items are available to providers at an average of 20% less than other brands, Bosco said.

“We’re very confident we can offer a significant price advantage on these products,” he said. “The gold standard in private brands is to have 15% to 20% of sales in private business.

At over 18,000 SKUs, the wholly owned Invacare subsidiary has doubled the wholesale/distribution business of the former Suburban Ostomy since acquiring it in 1998, Bosco said. Besides its Invacare flagship brand, the supply group offers an array of products from other manufacturers, including J & J, Respironics, Malinckrodt, Puritan-Bennett, Kimberly-Clark and Kendall. It has six distribution centers nationwide and its service area includes Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico.

Category manager Suegene Levin noted that the disposables business, along with enteral nutrition supply, have been rapid-growth segments of the distributor’s home delivery program. Not only does the program save the provider money, it gives the company added sales dimensions as well, she said.

“We can save the customer between $13 and $17 per order by handling their home delivery for them,” she said. “We also go beyond distribution – we help them market the product. We give them value-added services that make them full service providers.”