Home Entertainment Source (HES), a division of buying group BrandSource, held its first CES reception on Wednesday night for members and vendors at Bally’s.
Executive director Jim Ristow reported that the group had a strong fourth quarter, “up in the high teens,” over last year, driven by important SKUs based on its Expert Warehouse Solution. That is a program that allows HES members to purchase products from the Expert Warehouse at factory-direct prices, with no distribution charges. In video it resulted in HDTV sales growth of 40 percent, Ristow said.
Robert Cole, president of Bob & Ron’s WorldWideStereo of Hatfield, Pa., and new president of HES, said, “Our membership is now around 300, up 79 during the past six months.” In a brief address, Cole acknowledged the solid fourth quarter enjoyed by member dealers, which he attributed in part to the group’s strong vendor relations.
Fellow HES member David Pidgeon, president/CEO of Starpower of Dallas, also recognized the uptick in home audio sales throughout 2004.
“When we sell more HDTV we have to offer digital audio to provide consumers with the complete package,” Pidgeon said. Cole added, “As video evolves and [HDTV] pricing goes down somewhat, there is more money available for consumers to upgrade their audio systems.”
Pigeon noted that what separates HES-type dealers from big-box chains is, “We can sell the whole digital audio/video package, install the flat screen on the wall and make sure the whole system works. Consumers have to trust us to cut up their walls, and they do.”
Bob Lawrence, executive director of HES’ parent Brand Source, noted that with the exception of a pre-Election Day slowdown, business was strong across the board throughout the year and spiked following the presidential election and on the Mondays following Thanksgiving weekend and Christmas.