Anaheim, Calif. -
Members of the Progressive Retailers Organization (PRO Group) and Home
Entertainment Source (HES) held high-level meetings with key video vendors in Korea and Japan last month.
The specialty A/V buying groups, which last year
formed a strategic partnership called the Alliance,
said the goal of the visits was to better understand each manufacturing
partner's global strategies and to gain
first-hand knowledge of their plans for the U.S. market.
The buying group
delegates, who included PRO Group
executive director/COO Dave
Workman, HES executive VP Jim Ristow, and Bob Lawrence, CEO of HES parent Brand
Source, met with senior executives from LG, Panasonic, Samsung, Sharp
Also attending the meetings
were HES and PRO Group dealers
Bob Cole of World Wide Stereo, Rob Standley of Vann's, Al Walters of Stereo
Advantage, Scott Anderson of Crutchfield and Murray Huppin of Huppin's/OneCall.
According to Workman, the manufacturers presented short- and
long-term opportunities for the Alliance that
will help members attract a profitable, up-market customer base.
"The joint meetings with our top video suppliers in Japan and Korea were
extremely productive and will help us increase our presence in the premium
market, which is critical in order for our members to stay competitive," Workman
"We left Asia with a very positive sentiment
towards some exciting and compelling technologies such as IPTV and 3D that are
perfectly suited to grow through our channel of retail in 2010."
Workman noted that the
$4 billion Alliance "represents the
largest national alternative to the more commodity-driven mass-market segments of
the business for manufacturers to increase their premium sales."
Indeed, the impact of commodity-driven mass-market challenges was
a key topic of discussion during the week-long trip. "With
commoditization, neither suppliers nor retailers can be profitable," said HES's
Ristow. "We really need each other to weather the current economic storm
and focus on the future. The Alliance is
committed to giving our vendor partners a clear channel to help them design,
build and increase profits."
PRO Group, a $2 billion premium A/V buying
organization, coordinates purchasing
and facilitates idea exchange of best advertising, merchandising and
training practices between its members,
which include Abt Electronics, Bjorn's Car Toys, Crutchfield, Ken Crane's, MyerEmco, Ovation
Audio/Video and Sixth Avenue
HES, the $1.8 billion A/V specialty division of
BrandSource, is a not-for-profit organization that provides specialized pricing, merchandising allowances and
rebate programs to its
approximately 500 members.