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Abt Goes PRO

4/21/2003 02:00:00 AM Eastern

Abt Electronics & Appliances, the 67-year-old Chicago area independent, has joined the Progressive Retailers Organization (PRO Group), effective immediately.

Abt's entry into the high-end A/V buying group comes one month after its exit from the NATM Buying Corp. Abt ended its long affiliation with NATM over a switch in a core group program from Mitsubishi to Hitachi.

"When the opportunity for Abt to join the group came up, we jumped on it," said PRO executive director Roger Heuberger, citing its well-trained sales force, exceptional customer service and shared upmarket product lines.

Heuberger acknowledged that Abt's brown and white goods merchandise mix is novel for PRO, although it isn't unique. Vann's, another former NATM dealer, similarly sells CE and majaps from its seven Montana stores.

What's more, the "considerable contrast" between typical PRO dealer business models and Abt's single large-volume location and advertising style will allow for peaceful co-existence within the Chicago market, where fellow member Tweeter Home Entertainment Group maintains a major presence, he noted.

Added PRO president and Ovation CEO Gary McCormick, "As similar as many PRO Group members are, some of our greatest learning has come out of the differences between our members' business platforms."

Abt president Mike Abt said his family already knows many PRO members personally, and is "looking forward to expanding those relationships as we trade ideas and work on ways to improve profitability."

He added that in past discussions Abt had determined to position itself "more like a PRO Group retailer. Who knew that a few years later that would actually be the case?"

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