Las Vegas – The Nationwide Marketing Group opened its summer PrimeTime event here yesterday by marking its leadership transition and reporting that its “Prepare For Share” initiative has begun to take share away from competitors across all categories.
Days before PrimeTime opened Nationwide named Dave Bilas as president/CEO, Jeff Knock as chief commercial officer and Tom Hickman as executive VP of electronics and distribution, among others who received new responsibilities. Co-CEOs Robert Weisner and Les Kirk retired but will consult for the group.
And the new management team members, each of whom has been in place for several years, have taken control at a great time. Knock and Bilas report that after a slow first quarter business is booming across the board and that the Prepare For Share program is a big part of it.
Prepare For Share, introduced earlier this year at the spring PrimeTime show in Dallas, provides participating members with real-time access to key products in all categories with special promotions and pricing. The goal is not only to take share away from a weakened Sears but to leverage the sales and service expertise of Nationwide members, as well as the group’s marketing and distribution savvy, to benefit dealers and suppliers.
Knock said Prepare For Share is “simple to use in the marketplace. Our plan takes info online that is local and customized for each dealer.” This is not a generic message” he said, but one that is “surgical... for each member’s marketplace.”
Commenting on the first half of the year, Knock noted that “Business is booming now, but it started out kind of like the first quarter of ’14. It was slow due to the weather, port embargoes hurt distribution and then the aftermath was a lot of inventory challenges.”
However the second quarter was “unbelievable for us,” Knock volunteered, due to Prepare For Share, better weather and pent up consumer demand, among other factors.
Bilas pointed out that whenever the economy comes out of a housing downturn “you have increases of [housing] starts and completions. The increased turnover on both sides ... propels retail.” He also said that the cyclical nature of product replacement in major appliances has begun to kick in. “Those appliance units are ready to turn” from a decade ago when sales took off.
As for the first half, “If you take out the Northeast in the first quarter, the rest of the country did well,” Bilas said, while in the second quarter, “continuing sales momentum, and the ability of people in the Northeast to get out, shop and take care of pent-up demand” led to increased sales.
Knock said that in major appliances Prepare To Share has “increased our growth. Nationwide has outperformed the industry 3 to 1. The program provides our members with critical resources, improves the in-store experience and enables our members to execute these programs easily.”
He noted that Nationwide’s strategic vendors “are all in” on the plan, providing “exclusive products [and] special deals across the board. It is building business, increasing share and footprints for all product categories.”
Furniture sales, for example, are up 8 percent and outpacing the industry along with bedding, while Ultra HD TV sell-through is also booming due to the program’s support, Knock said.
Speaking of CE, Hickman added: “It is a good time to be a CE retailer, especially with [Ultra HD] being very profitable” and the group getting strong double-digit gains in the category.
Nationwide’s strength is in 55-inch and larger displays, and “We are chasing a bunch of good things in CE from now through 2017,” Hickman said.
See the Aug. 17 issue of TWICE for additional show coverage.