Orlando, Fla. - BrandSource's Home Entertainment Source (HES) provided some updates on supplier deals, its merger with the PRO Group to create ProSource.
Here are some highlights:
• "We've put the band back together," as HES executive VP Jim Ristow put it when he introduced Tom Evans, associate VP for the Elite brand of Sharp, and Russ Johnston, executive VP of Pioneer's home electronics, announcing that the group will be carrying the new line of Elite TVs from Sharp. Evans said that Sharp is targeting a summer launch for the Elite TVs and will feature "distinctive new technology." Johnston reminded everyone that Sharp is a major shareholder in Pioneer -- 14 percent -- and since it dropped Elite TVs two years ago, "we wanted to have a formal relationship" on a product introduction and with Sharp and this "void in the marketplace" due to Elite is a great way to return. "We are glad to be back." While details are scarce about the new sets, Johnston said Sharp is studying "what we did and how we did it" with Elite, such as emphasizing 50- to 60-inch sets.
• HES is also adding Bedrock Learning (an online training site), TechCraft furniture, TEAC, Salamander Design and Smith & Wesson, a turnkey home security system that "can put anyone in that business," Ristow said.
• Jim Ristow said that HES and PRO, now united under ProSource as of January's International CES, speaks "with one voice, one common goal." ProSource consists of 950 storefronts and $3.6 billion in specialty CE and custom retail sales. PRO Group has 16 dealers and 176 storefronts while HES has 550 dealers and 770 storefronts.
• Connected Source just announced at the Summit is a turnkey concept for all HES and PRO members to demonstrate and display connected systems and at stores and locations "at little cost for members," Ristow said. "Customers will learn about new upgrades for the home, will help dealers create demos, provide planograms and beta tests that will be ... a hands-on shopping experience."
• Expert Warehouse will be adding the following lines: Klipsch and Marantz in April and Denon in June. Paradigm and Anthem will be added in May and June, "which will help dealers west of the Mississippi" due to past logistics problems, and Monster's Dr. Dre headphones and the rest of its accessories added in June.