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PRO, HES Relationship On Display

Scottsdale, Ariz. – The relationship between the Progressive Retailers
Organization (PRO Group) and the Home Entertainment Group (HES) of BrandSource
is on display at PRO’s spring meeting here, not so much with new programs but
as an alternative to what some call “big-box” retailers.

Workman, executive director of PRO Group and host of this week’s meeting, said
that the relationship between both groups is “evolving,” and for PRO members,
“provides us with a warehouse solution for some members that makes sense.”

newest members include former HES or BrandSource members World Wide Stereo, The
Big Screen Store and an appliance/electronics retailer like Bill Smith Inc.
that is more majaps (for now) in its mix than CE.

foundation of alliance is the same and has been since the beginning,” Workman
said, “to position [HES] and our group as a larger block of business to the
industry. It is about line mix, technology and expertise … more than what a big
box can offer.”

Ristow, executive director of HES, told TWICE here Tuesday that the alliance
between PRO and his group is to “continue to carry a channel message [of HES
and PRO]. We just came from Asia and discussed
the advantages of doing business with our retailers. We are building relationships
with the right suppliers for the right types of products. We are doing a lot of
messaging to the vendor community to continue their support. This is an evolution
and has been beneficial to [HES and PRO].

When asked
about former BrandSource members Wide World Stereo and Big Screen Store joining
PRO, Ristow said, “We are looking for an industry solution. [HES and PRO] want
to partner with the right vendors, place the right members with the right
groups. We want partnerships … we are looking for the betterment of the

While the
mood here has been upbeat, given the dismal economic and market conditions of
the past couple of years, Ristow noted, “We believe that we are in the midst of
a continuing consolidation. Those that are left will dominate … and we intend
to be around.”

current market conditions, Ristow said that while there may be product
shortages, “There are positives. There is a stabilization of pricing. Consumers
have embraced the 3D experience to the surprise of many in the industry. And
the VOD feature is something the consumer wants — we can step up the consumer
and raise ASPs.”

He agreed
with the description of the current market as “choppy” through April but noted,
“I’m bullish about the second half. This is anecdotal, but consumer confidence
appears to be picking up on some discretionary purchases.”

PRO’s 2010 brand plans, Workman noted it is “premature to discuss any brand
realignment” but that it has been “vocal about channel strategies” that back
specialty retailers and that many suppliers have “put programs behind their
words” about supporting the channel.

thanks to 3D TV, PRO members are looking at alternative categories, such as
video games. “You can’t make a nickel on hardware,” but he said
the group is looking at different areas package product with TVs, Blu-ray and
other 3D products to garner profits with this technology,” Workman said.