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Aaron Rents Buys NATM Member Sight ‘n Sound

Aaron Rents, a 650-store chain that rents and sells consumer electronics, major appliances and office and residential furniture, is buying out NATM Buying Corp. member Sight ‘n Sound Appliance Centers for about $12 million in cash. The purchase is expected to close at press time, and will mark Sight ‘n Sound’s departure from the buying group.

A privately held CE and majap chain based in Oklahoma City, Sight ‘n Sound operates 26 stores in Oklahoma and Kansas. Founded in 1969 by CEO/president Darrell Chabino, the $100 million-plus business is one of the largest independent dealers in its trading region. The company credits its growth to its expansion into secondary markets when national CE chains entered Tulsa and Oklahoma City. It also attributes its success to aggressive marketing of extended warrantees and a private-label credit card — concepts its says it helped pioneer within CE retailing —and to the development of a class B credit financing department.

According to Aaron Rents chairman/CEO R. Charles Loudermilk, Sight ‘n Sound will continue as a separate operating unit of the company, and will now offer leasing options, in addition to immediate purchases, of its current mix of branded CE, majaps and furniture.

“We feel we have the opportunity to increase the current volume of the Sight ‘n Sound stores by introducing our highly successful sales and lease ownership plan,” Loudermilk said. Founder Chabino is expected to leave the company.

The acquisition ends Sight ‘n Sound’s affiliation with NATM — which will now number 10 retailers — as its new owner operates within group members’ markets.

According to NATM executive director Bill Trawick, the group will not actively seek a replacement, as Sight’n Sound’s volume is expected to be made up by sales gains at Conn’s, H.H. Gregg and other member dealers.

“There’s no pressure to run out and find another member,” Trawick said.

Sight ‘n Sound ranked 81st on the TWICE CE Retail Registry with $64 million in electronics sales last year, down 4.5 percent from 2000, and came in 33rd on the TWICE Major Appliance Retail Registry with $28 million in white goods sales, down 3.4 percent from the year prior.