hhgregg Seeking Appliance Supremacy

By Alan Wolf On Feb 13 2012 - 6:00am

INDIANAPOLIS – hhgregg is looking to become the nation’s next appliance giant.

The multiregional majap, CE and furniture chain predicted that white goods will become its biggest product category, and intimated that conditions are ripe for it to usurp Sears as the nation’s preeminent appliance retailer.

Without naming names, president/ CEO Dennis May told analysts during an earnings call last week that “changes in the competitive landscape have created a significant opportunity for hhgregg to play a leadership role in the industry.”

White-goods supremacy is not inconceivable for the company, which even now is a major force within the majap trade. With just 208 stores in 16 states, it already is the country’s fifth-largest full-line appliance retailer behind Sears, Lowe’s, The Home Depot and Best Buy, according to TWICE’s Top 100 Major Appliance Retailers Report, and it continues to pursue an aggressive expansion strategy with the goal of becoming a national chain.

Internally, appliances are the company’s highest gross profit category and will eventually surpass video as its largest dollar-volume business. The drivers, May said, include a dedicated sales force and initiatives like in-store kitchen vignettes that are helping the chain grow market share and outpace the industry in comparable store sales.

The efforts are clearly paying off: hhgregg’s white-goods comps grew nearly 7 percent during the fourth quarter despite a nearly 13 percent decline in industry shipments, May noted, as the company hit the “appliance trifecta” of good draw, high close rates and rising average selling prices.

The CEO anticipates even greater gains going forward with the planned expansion of its cooking and built-in product offerings.

“We have the opportunity to do something special in appliances,” he said. “Appliances are part of our DNA.”

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