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PRO Group Joins BrandSource

12/30/2010 09:22:51 AM Eastern

Anaheim, Calif. - The
Progressive Retailers Organization (PRO Group) has merged with Home
Entertainment Source (HES), a division of the $14 billion BrandSource buying
group.

prosourceThe combined entity,
called ProSource, formalizes a strategic partnership that was forged two years
ago between the two specialty A/V buying organizations under The Alliance
banner.

PRO, which serves larger
regional dealers including Vann's, Sixth Avenue Electronics and
Huppin's/OneCall, and HES, which is comprised of 550 smaller independents, will
continue to operate as separate entities beneath the ProSource umbrella.

Dave Workman will
continue as executive director/COO of PRO Group, and Jim Ristow remains
executive VP of HES.

Together the two groups
account for 950 storefronts and about $3.6 billion dollars in CE revenue,
making ProSource the country's largest buying and merchandising organization
for premium CE specialty retailers, BrandSource said.

The merger, said ProSource,
will help independent dealers expand their product lines, enter new categories
and collectively place larger-volume orders with key vendors, which will
increase the channel's influence within the industry.

The new organization will
also provide members with expanded advertising programs, e-commerce
initiatives, business solutions and "best practices" sharing, ProSource said.

BrandSource CEO Bob
Lawrence said the formal merger of the Alliance partners was gradually
phased-in over the last two years. He said the combined ProSource platform will
end any vendor confusion over the PRO and HES relationship, and will provide
consumers and manufacturers with a way to experience and showcase better
products amid an environment beset by tier-3 price cutting.

Lawrence added that
Workman and Ristow are currently working with vendors to transition core
programs. "It's a huge change for manufacturers," he said.

In a statement, Workman
noted that "The goal is to bring members from both organizations together to
create the best and most influential merchandising group in the industry for
the independent retailer."

Added Ristow: "This
merger allows us to compete in compelling new ways by offering customers expert
knowledge, the best vendors and the latest advances in CE solutions and
technology. Key manufacturers will have a tremendous opportunity to optimize
their positions in our storefronts as our members offer customized
recommendations and hands-on demonstrations to the consumer."

The merger continues the
trend of buying group consolidation, as smaller independent organizations such
as BrandSource's Resource Plus division (formerly MARTA), and Nationwide
Marketing Group's NECO Alliance chapter, align themselves with larger groups to
counter big-box expansion and changing channel strategies.

The new ProSource organization
formally will formally debut Wednesday, Jan. 5, at PRO Group's annual CES-eve cocktail
reception at Bally's Hotel in Las Vegas.

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