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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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