Updated! The industry’s largest buying group just got bigger.
Mega, led by president Rick Bellows, is a 3,200-store marketing and merchandising organization for independent furniture, CE, appliance and bedding dealers. It was created in 1982 as a chapter of the old Key America buying group and enjoyed a brief stint with Nationwide after going solo in 1997.
The combined entity will serve more than 5,300 independent dealers operating 14,000 storefronts and generating an estimated $18.5 billion in sell-through.
Under terms of the deal, the newly combined organization will retain the Nationwide Marketing Group moniker as well as its chairman, Dave Bilas. Mega will continue to maintain its offices in Memphis, Tenn., and its president, Rick Bellows, will join the Nationwide leadership team.
In a statement, Bilas noted that Nationwide’s massive major appliance volume and strength in CE, combined with Mega’s furniture and bedding muscle, will provide member dealers with a “greater merchandising mix to increase market awareness, traffic and profitable sales growth.”
Additional benefits, noted Bellows, are a deeper senior management bench, greater purchasing scale, more consistent execution, and “a strategically focused technology investment to drive greater awareness, traffic and volume through our member’s storefronts and online,” he said.
Vendors and suppliers will also benefit by realizing greater efficiencies from the consolidation — including two fewer buying group shows to attend. Indeed, Bilas predicted that the group’s first combined event, the upcoming PrimeTime show in February, will likely be “the largest buying show, member conference, educational event, networking opportunity and product exhibition in the history of independent appliance, electronics, furniture and bedding retailing.”
The merger could signal the start of another wave of buying group consolidation that saw Nationwide and its next-largest competitor, AVB/BrandSource, forge affiliations with the NECO Alliance, the MARTA Cooperative of America, Pro Group and other former chapters of the once-sprawling Key America, among other buying organizations.