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NATM: Back In The Saddle Again

San Antonio, Texas — After suffering the loss of four member dealers in two years, including regional heavyweights H.H. Gregg and Abt Electronics, the NATM Buying Corp. is back at the top of its game.

That was the word from executive director Bill Trawick, who presided over the group’s Western-themed Annual Meeting here last month at the Westin La Cantera Resort.

Thanks to new members, new storefronts and “an extremely good 2003,” the white- and brown-goods buying group exceeded industry growth in key categories and managed to hit the $3 billion mark in cumulative annual sales last year — up from its $2 billion tally for 2002, and equaling annual revenues from a time when the organization boasted twice as many members.

Contributing to the bounty was a trio of new members, all of whom joined last year, including $1 billion East Coast department store chain Boscov’s, central Tennessee’s 15-store Electronic Express, and Grant’s Appliance & Electronics, a six-unit Chicago area regional.

Also fueling NATM’s fires are aggressive expansions, either planned or consummated, by 11 of its 12 members, including Nebraska Furniture Mart’s 712,000 square foot megastore which opened last summer in Kansas City; Conn’s aggressive entry into the Dallas market; and BrandsMart U.S.A.’s forthcoming foray into Atlanta.

“The new members and the growth of current members is allowing us to rebound,” Trawick said. “These are [largely] private entrepreneurs who are expanding at their own expense. It’s hard to believe they’d open new stores if business wasn’t good.”