Brand Source Helping Dealers Recoup Vendor Funds

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Las Vegas - Brand Source dealers will be able to automatically recoup rebate and price protection funds from manufacturers under a new program developed by the buying group.

The automated system, described by Brand Source executives as the first in the industry, was one of three member initiatives announced at the group's 40th anniversary convention and buying fair, held here this week at the Paris and Bally's hotels.


According to Jim Ristow, executive VP of the group's Home Entertainment Source (HES) A/V division, the one-click system will recoup millions of dollars in unclaimed funds for dealers that are overwhelmed by the requirements of vendor programs.  Members will receive their checks in 15 days rather than months, and the added cash flow could help make the difference between success and failure in the current marketplace, he said.

The program, which will launch in two weeks via the group's Intranet customer service portal, will initially cover purchases made through Brand Source's warehouse distribution program, Expert Warehouse, and as such will also be open to PRO Group dealers who buy through the Brand Source warehouses.

In addition to the automated claims system, Brand Source will begin offering major appliances through Expert Warehouse, which had previously been limited to A/V inventory. The program, which will launch in January with a phased geographic rollout starting in the Northeast, will allow dealers to buy small, mixed lots of GE, Electrolux and Whirlpool appliances along with TVs and other A/V products.

According to Brand Source CEO Bob Lawrence, Expert Warehouse's majap assortment will mirror what dealers are currently buying direct from manufacturers, with comparable or better pricing and return policies. Dealers will be able to reduce the amount of inventory they must carry, and will receive shipments more quickly under the program, which Lawrence described as "industry changing" for the appliance business.

Brand Source will expand both the space and number of its distribution centers to accommodate the added white goods inventory, he said.

The third program is a movie club concept designed to drive traffic to the group's consumer Web sight, BrandSource.com. Through a partnership with a major video distributor, the site will offer customers five new Hollywood releases each month at a price of $19.95 per DVD and $29.95 per Blu-ray Disc, following a one-time membership fee of $10.

Despite the brutal marketplace, which Lawrence described as "very tough" in July, the group's total sales rose more than 16 percent year over year to $14 billion, buoyed by brisk sales of TVs and gains in such ancillary businesses as rent-to-own and floor coverings.

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