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BrandSource Outperforming Industry: Lawrence

LAS VEGAS — Independent dealers in general, and BrandSource members in particular, are gaining market share at the expense of big-box chains thanks to their superior brand selection and in-store shopping experience.

That was the word from BrandSource CEO Bob Lawrence, who acknowledged the challenges of the past four or five recessionary years but assured members and vendors that the buying group is well positioned for the future.

Addressing the rank and file at the $12 billion group’s Fall Convention & Expo here, he said independents increased their cumulative majap market share to 33 percent last year — vs. one-third for big-box chains and another third for Sears — while BrandSource dealers are outpacing the white-goods industry by 33 percent within the retail channel after factoring out homebuilder sales.

The group is also outperforming on the CE side. In TV, BrandSource sales are down 7 percent compared with a 12 drop percent industrywide; audio is up 7 percent for group dealers vs. flat for the industry; and Brand- Source’s system integrators are enjoying a 31 percent sales resurgence, compared with 8 percent gains for the channel, Lawrence said.

The latter segment includes the group’s Home Entertainment Source (HES) and Progressive Retailers Organization (PRO Group) divisions, which “continue to evolve” toward a reorganization under the ProSource banner, HES executive VP Jim Ristow said.

In the meantime, the groups have leveraged BrandSource’s infrastructure to develop a complete digital solution specific for the integration channel with both customer-facing and back-end elements that include a website, mobile app, traffic metrics, a database of boutique specialty lines, and social-media and search engine optimization (SEO) functions.

The program has been beta-tested for over a year by the more than a dozen dealers that helped design it, and is ready for rollout to all of the group’s specialty members, Ristow said.

He added that the completely customizable platform will be available for several hundred dollars a month, compared with the tens of thousands it would cost the typical member to build from scratch.