Metro Cash & Carry today (24 November) insisted that the retailer remains committed to its branded suppliers after revealing plans for a major push behind its own-label portfolio.

The company, part of German retail giant Metro Group, generates 10% of its annual turnover from own label, which in 2008 equated to EUR3bn (US$4.5bn). By 2012, Metro Cash & Carry wants to double its own-label revenues.

Unveiling its plans at Metro Group's headquarters in Dusseldorf today, Metro Cash & Carry said it had streamlined its private-label portfolio and would launch six own-label lines - including the entry-level Aro and the upmarket Finest Food - into 30 markets.

Speaking to just-food on the sidelines of the event, Thomas Rudelt, Metro Cash & Carry's head of corporate own-brand management, said that, despite the ambitious sales targets for own label, the wholesaler's branded suppliers remained key to its business.

Some of Metro Cash & Carry's suppliers, including McCain Foods, will work with the retailer on brands and own label, he said.

"A-brand sales are very important to our business. We have categories that are very A-brand driven," Rudelt said.

"We don't pressure our suppliers. We don't say 'We have more own-label brands on-shelf, so you have to pay more money.' That is not what we are doing."

The project comes at the end of a challenging 2009 for Metro Cash & Carry with CEO Frans Muller admitting the retailer had invested less in the business this year.

"If our customers are under pressure, that will have an impact," Muller said. However, he added: "In almost all markets, we gained market share."

The company refused to disclose how much money it is putting behind the project, which will see the six lines launched in stages across its markets.