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PRO Group Adds Kansas City's BrandsMart

9/03/2001 02:00:00 AM Eastern

The Progressive Retailers Organization (PRO Group), the specialty audio/video, home installation and autosound retail buying organization, has added BrandsMart-Midwest of Kansas City to its membership.

BrandsMart-Midwest operates four audio/video stores and one cellular store in the Kansas City marketplace. Its store profile as well as company history and structure is very similar to other PRO members. Founded in 1974 by Bill Berg, the chain occupies the up-market position, specializing in better A/V and autosound goods, like other PRO members. BrandsMart-Midwest was a member of the Nationwide TV & Appliances group until last fall when it briefly was part of the Home Theater Specialists of America.

BrandsMart COO Lee Roark said in a prepared statement, "The timing for joining PRO couldn't be better. We are in the early stages of renovating one store and will be breaking ground on our sixth store in the spring. We already have trips planned to visit other PRO members looking for home and autosound merchandising and store display ideas."

The PRO Group, which with this addition has 15 members and about $1.7 billion in sales, said in a prepared statement that BrandsMart is "the first of several new members PRO expects to announce in the near future."

Roger Heuberger, PRO Group executive director, said that BrandsMart "will be a great fit for PRO. Our autosound and home audio and video lines match up very closely. We are really looking forward to having them participate in the various group forums we have throughout the year. Several PRO members are just a tad smaller than BrandsMart and another six are the next tier up in size. The relevance of the idea sharing should be phenomenal."

With the organization being healthy and being led by major players like Tweeter and Ultimate Electronics, Heuberger said that the decision to expand was one of "bringing more new blood and getting more ideas" into the group. "We needed more people to participate in our Idea Exchange," he said.

PRO Group's 15 specialty retailers operate more than 240 retail locations nationally, and as a means of servicing the growing custom home installation market, PRO members operate more than 200 installation crews in 42 states.

When asked about how business will be for the remainder of the year, Heuberger said, "Our comp sales have been up, particularly due to video. That is a departure from previous years, where car and home audio has had a greater mix of the group's sales." Yet in the car business "mobile multimedia has been saving the day," he said.

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