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Nationwide's Kelly, Weisner Talk Industry Trends & Group Plans

8/23/2007 02:41:00 PM Eastern

Las Vegas — The Nationwide Marketing Group seems to be defying market trends in both consumer electronics and major appliance industries, according to attendees of its summer Prime Time! convention and its leaders — Ed Kelly, president, and Robert Weisner, executive VP/director.

Ed Kelly

These two executives, who run the $11 billion buying group, discussed Nationwide’s success this year and pressing issues facing the electronics/appliance industry with TWICE this week at the convention. Nationwide’s success is reflected in the

attendance of Prime Time!,

which was held at the Venetian Hotel, here, from Aug. 19-22. More than 3,700 Nationwide members and suppliers attended, with 185 exhibitors taking up 200,000 square feet of exhibit space, an increase of 80,000 square feet from last year’s show.

Among the highlights of a TWICE Video interview that will appear the week of Aug. 27 and later as a text story:

  • Nationwide’s major appliance business is up 1 percent so far this year and, “We have picked up ... 3 to 6 points in market share,” Weisner said, and added that in CE the group “has done well due to the work of our specialty electronics division.” Kelly said that to succeed in selling flat-panel TVs, “You have to merchandise the category correctly and sell the accessories, furniture and installation to generate profits.”

  • While Kelly said fourth-quarter sales “will be excellent” for flat-panel TV with sales volumes “we have never seen before,” Weisner predicted, “You will see Black Friday as black as ever because the guys who use Black Friday as an image in the marketplace are not going to move off of it. That means margins will suffer for that period. There will be 10, 15, even 20 percent discounts for the fourth quarter. If you’re [a retailer] just selling flat panel and not selling accessories and installation, you will have problems with margins.”

  • The recent bad publicity about a variety of Chinese-manufactured products may create a backlash in the industry. Weisner noted, “I’m not saying our members will [not carry] Chinese products ... but our members will use any and all ammunition against [Chinese brands] sold at Wal-Mart, Costco and the Internet and tell their customers they would be better served if they bought a first-tier product.” And Kelly added, “I think the big boxes will have some serious problems [with these brands] and it’s coming fast.”

  • Nationwide is hopeful about the electronics/appliance industry’s long range prospects. “We believe that overall innovation in major appliances and consumer electronics will only increase, but that that our members are looking at least five great years in sales and profits going forward,” Weisner said. And as for Nationwide, he noted, “We believe we are gaining share that we can gain 10 share points [for the group] in the next 36 months. We believe Sears will continue to lose share [in major appliances], and we believe that independent retailers can best serve [those] customers.”

    Robert Weisner

(Check the TWICE Video page for the video of this interview the week of Aug. 27.)

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