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Focus: Buying Groups : Buying Groups Retool

Buying Groups Retool- Execs unveil new dealer strategies, group initiatives

March 2012 By Nancy Klosek

Challenges for the industry's CE and appliance buying groups have deepened each year, as members have come to depend increasingly on their groups' agility in reacting to trends an anticipating them. We recently asked group executives to fill us in on new-member initiatives, category performance, online dealer strategies, training and vendor support. Here's what they had to say.

Dealerscope: On average, are the sales and profits of your members' businesses up or down during the last six months?

Dave Workman, Executive Director/COO, PRO Group: We perform very well in the audio and mobile categories. We had a little bit of a challenge from the early fall forward in television, which the industry had in general. So, unfortunately, our group finished down this last year. We do quite a bit of business in the digital camera area, and the product shortages hurt us a little bit there; Blu-ray video performance also.

TV is still our most challenging category, but at the same time one we hold the most optimism for it in this coming year because of the number of policy changes coming into the marketplace. We have a very unique situation in television, in that both the vendors and the retailers are not making any money in the category. Many of the vendors recognize that it's a mature marketplace, and are now seeing how they can work to improve profitability from what we saw last year. Across the board, every major vendor is doing something different, and as a result, we as a group are very supportive of the policies being put in place. We know that it will represent some level of change for our dealerships. And honestly, even if it means we're doing slightly less volume, which I'm not sure will be the case, if profitability improves, then it will be better for the dealers as a whole.

Dave Bilas, Executive Vice President, Nationwide Marketing Group: We represent appliance, electronics, furniture and rent-to-own independent dealers of all sizes that run businesses across every state in the U.S., so it is difficult to pinpoint who experienced the most or least profit in sales. However, we can say that based on reports given to us by the vendor community that collectively, our members did fairly well in 2011, seeing single-digit increases in appliance and electronics sales and double-digit increases in furniture and bedding. These are above-average numbers for the industry, so we are very pleased to share this news.



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