PRO Group Adds Bill Smith

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Fort Myers, Fla. - Bill Smith Appliances and Electronics, the 55-year-old Southwest Florida specialty chain, has joined the Progressive Retailers Organization (PRO Group) as its 18th member.

The family-owned business is also the A/V buying group's fourth member to carry both CE and major appliances, joining Abt Electronics, Vann's and fellow Floridian Jetson TV & Appliance Centers, which came on board in March.

PRO's strategic alliance with Home Entertainment Source (HES), the A/V division of Brand Source, gives its majap members access to the $12-billion buying group's white goods programs.

Bill Smith began serving Fort Myers from a single storefront in 1954, and today operates eight locations covering the Southwest Florida market, from Port Charlotte to Marco Island.

The company maintains its own in-house service department, operates three upscale Kitchen Design Centers, and is one of the largest independent GE Appliance dealerships in the country.

In a statement, Chris Riching, executive VP of Bill Smith, noted, "With the exit of Circuit City and Sound Advice from our markets, we've launched many initiatives which have successfully captured share. We are excited about the opportunity to now accelerate the growth of our consumer electronics sales via our new relationship with PRO Group."

"The members of PRO represent the very best of the CE industry," he continued, "and the management of PRO clearly understands the needs of its members from a retailer's point of view.  We are proud to become a part of this select group, and we look to the future with great optimism."

Added PRO Group executive director Dave Workman, "We are excited to add Bill Smith to our membership and look forward to supporting them in their endeavors in the upscale consumer electronics business. Our goal has always been to provide our members with the most complete set of program benefits and now, through our alliance with [Brand Source], we are able to compliment this with their group's advantages in the appliance category while maintaining our focus on providing the networking, information exchange, and business services that come through an affiliation with the esteemed retailers of PRO Group."

PRO's dealer ranks also include Bjorn's Audio/Video, Car Toys, Crutchfield, Electronics Expo, Flanner's Home Entertainment, Huppin's/OneCall, Ken Crane's, ListenUp, MODIA, MyerEmco, Ovation Audio/Video, Paul's TV, Sixth Avenue Electronics and Stereo Advantage.

As part of its post-Sound Advice and Circuit City initiatives, Bill Smith had the second-highest share of all retail newspaper advertising on a weighted basis within the 40-inch and larger TV category during the first quarter of the year. According to IFR Monitoring, which tracks ads in the 100 largest U.S. newspapers, the chain more than doubled its share of print ads during the three-month period to 12.7 percent from full-year 2008.


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