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PRO, HES Hold Strategic Vendor Talks In Asia

Members of the Progressive Retailers Organization (PRO Group) and Home Entertainment Source (HES) held high-level meetings with key video vendors in Korea and Japan last month.

The specialty A/V buying groups, which last year formed a strategic partnership called the Alliance, said the goal of the visits was to better understand each manufacturing partner’s global strategies and to gain first-hand knowledge of their plans for the U.S. market.

The buying group delegates, who included PRO Group executive director/COO Dave Workman, HES executive VP Jim Ristow, and Bob Lawrence, CEO of HES parent Brand Source, met with senior executives from LG, Panasonic, Samsung, Sharp and Toshiba.

Also attending the meetings were HES and PRO Group dealers Bob Cole of World Wide Stereo, Rob Standley of Vann’s, Al Walters of Stereo Advantage, Scott Anderson of Crutchfield and Murray Huppin of Huppin’s/OneCall.

According to Workman, the manufacturers presented short- and long-term opportunities for the Alliance that will help members attract a profitable, up-market customer base.

“The joint meetings with our top video suppliers in Japan and Korea were extremely productive and will help us increase our presence in the premium market, which is critical in order for our members to stay competitive,” Workman said.

“We left Asia with a very positive sentiment towards some exciting and compelling technologies such as IPTV and 3D that are perfectly suited to grow through our channel of retail in 2010.”

Workman noted that the $4 billion Alliance “represents the largest national alternative to the more commodity-driven mass-market segments of the business for manufacturers to increase their premium sales.”

Indeed, the impact of commodity-driven mass-market challenges was a key topic of discussion during the week-long trip. “With commoditization, neither suppliers nor retailers can be profitable,” said HES’s Ristow. “We really need each other to weather the current economic storm and focus on the future. The Alliance is committed to giving our vendor partners a clear channel to help them design, build and increase profits.”