Buying Group Members Bullish, Nationwide Dealers Pin Profit Hopes On CE

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Dealers attending last month's annual Nationwide TV & Appliances meeting in Las Vegas were optimistic about the prospects for another banner year.

Thanks to a consumer appetite for big-screen TVs and digital devices, members see good things ahead for the balance of 2000. "We're seeing a big increase in sales of home satellite systems, home theater and DVD," observed Greg Sens of Servex Electronics in Marion, Ohio. "High-definition TV will become more important to us as the prices start coming down and HDTV broadcasts in-crease in the Columbus area."

Observed Malcolm Ratliff of B&W TV & Appliance in Staffordsville, Ky., "The first six months of this year should be as strong as 1999. Our mix is fifty-fifty white to brown goods, but electronics are the more profitable side of the business."

Marty Blankenship, the CE buyer for Jac's TV & Appliance, a six-store operation based in Jonesboro, Ark., said 2000 is shaping up to be stronger than the "up and down" year the dealer had in 1999.

Leading the charge in the 21st century is computers, which constitutes up-ward of 12% of Jac's dollar volume. "It's the brightest spot I have on the electronics side," he said. "We roll together a complete package and put a price on it. All the advertising is geared toward the sale of a complete system."

On the white-goods side of the aisle, buyer Bruce Engelmann reported that "refrigeration continues to do extremely well" at Jac's, especially now that pricing on side-by-side models has fallen.

At the show itself, highlights included the rollout of a new $1 million sales training program for managers and sales staff; a two-day, 150-vendor trade show; and a keynote from Maytag senior sales VP Randy Melville. Melville said Nationwide's sales of Maytag products grew from $231 million in 1997 to $390 million in 1998, and to $420 million last year.

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