Ristow: HES a ‘National Alternative’ to the Big Box
Professing that “HES is the only national alternative to the box stores for high-end consumer electronics,” Home Entertainment Source executive vice president Jim Ristow kicked off Day One of the Brand Source buying group’s Dallas-held “Mission Possible: Success” 2008 Summit – a convocation that included motivational and manufacturer presentations, deal-brokering and networking opportunities –which this year attracted a 75 percent larger attendance from the HES membership, he said.
Bob Lawrence, Brand Source CEO, noted that the HES outbranch, which had recently passed the 500 mark in membership numbers, “has significant meaning to the Brand Source group as a whole; it’s the fastest-growing group segment.” Viewed in aggregate, he added, HES is now in the top seven retailers in consolidated volume.
Ristow offered an overview of 2007 HES business, saying group CE sales were up 16 percent for the year over 2006. “We are faring, as an organization, better than the industry,” he said. Line additions that included Integra, Niles, Sony, Sony ES, LG Opus and Toshiba, and the sale of 10,000 flat panels through the Expert Warehouse in the October-through-December timeframe were highlights that helped the group close out the year in healthy shape, he said. Also, the group has just added JVC’s D-ILA projectors, Escient’s full line and Sony’s custom install products to its Custom Warehouse, whose sales increased 32 percent last year. He also said the group’s relationship with Panasonic had deepened and that the brand’s 750 and soon-to-come 850 plasma series would be added. Also introduced to the Expert Warehouse portfolio was a hybrid Samsung program offering some benefits of a direct-sale model. Sales for Expert Warehouse, he said, were up 35 percent for the January-February timeframe versus the same period in 2007.