Profiles of 15 top furniture buying groups
Furniture Today Staff -- Furniture Today, March 4, 2013
Buyers (dba: BrandSource)
Headquarters: 100 S. Anaheim Blvd., Suite 250, Anaheim, Calif. 92805
Year established: 1969
Group type: member-owned
Lead member: Andy Kersay of Hamlin & Kersay, Korbin, Ky., president.
Senior Management: Robert Lawrence, CEO; Michael Allen, vice president/home furnishings; Jim Ristow, vice president/electronics; and John White, vice president/appliances.
Banners: BrandSource, Brand- Source Canada, SleepSource, Home Entertainment Source, Maytag Home Stores, OutdoorSource.
Number of members as of Dec. 31: 4,000, up by more than 1,400 members compared with two years ago.
Number of storefronts as of Dec. 31: 6,250, up 450 in the past two years.
Number of home furnishings members as of Dec. 31: 828
Total retail Sales, all members and product categories in 2012: $11 billion, including an estimated $3.3 billion in furniture and bedding sales. Now more commonly known as BrandSource, AVB is one of the largest buying and marketing group in the North America - in members, storefronts and retail sales.
While most commonly thought of as an appliance and consumer electronics specialist, Brand- Source also has become one of the largest retailers of furniture and mattresses in the United States with estimated sales of $3.3 billion in 2012. Total member mattress sales of $500 million last year would put the combined BrandSource retailers among the Top 10 U.S. bedding retailers.
AVB is a pure co-op - both member-owned and member-managed with 100% of the benefits of manufacturer-supported programs (volume rebates and other financial incentives) returned to the members.
Member stores typically display the BrandSource logo on their storefronts and exterior signage as well as on advertising and promotional materials. It's not uncommon for stores to use BrandSource in their names.
Furniture and mattresses are designated key growth areas. In addition to its consumer website, BrandSource offers an array of other support services including national advertising, circular programs, charitable and corporate sponsorships (Ronald McDonald House Charities and John Force Racing).
Over the past two years, the organization has expanded its supplier partnerships with more than 120 home furnishings manufacturers. BrandSource also has several private-label programs including Majestic Sleep Collection (mattresses from Serta) and Majestic Home (stationary upholstery from England Home Furnishings).
BrandSource also provides members with business and financial services. In 2011 BrandSource Financial was formed to offer inventory financing. It also offers this service to members of the National Home Furnishings Assn. and Western Home Furnishings Assn. Other offerings include Expert- Care, AVB's health insurance program; business insurance, store design, and consumer financing under a BrandSource card program.
In 2012, BrandSource developed one of the first mobile apps for Apple and Android devices. Consumers can access more than 250,000 furniture, appliance and consumer electronic products, and retailers can utilize the BrandSource app as a mobile catalog and point-of-sale system on the showroom floor.
Organizationally, AVB is divided into 14 U.S. regions, each with board representation. In addition to regional events and meetings, the buying group hosts two group-wide trade shows and conventions each year. Its 2013 National Convention will be held in Las Vegas, Aug 26-28.
BrandSource has an active strategic alliance with Canada's Mega Group, which operates as BrandSource Canada north of the border.
Cantrex Nationwide Group
Headquarters: 3075 Thimens Blvd., Suite 300, St-Laurent, Quebec, H4R 1Y4
Year established: 1960
Group type: non-member-owned service provider
Senior management: Jeannine Ghaleb, chief operating officer; Michael Bittman, senior vice-president, consumer electronics and photography; Jean Favreau, senior vice-president, furniture, appliances and bedding; Steve Gartner, vice-president, operations and financial services.
Number of members as of Jan. 31: 831, including 367 furniture, appliance and bedding members
Number of storefronts as of Jan. 31: 1,231
Estimated total retail sales, all members and categories, for 2012:
Banners: Accent (furniture, appliances and bedding), Zone Image (photography) and United Carpet/Floors (floor covering and home decor) are Cantrex's most successful standalone concept banners. Store-in-store concept banners include Mattress World and Appliance Expert and Experts Électroménagers. Furniture Plus and Independent Flooring Experts/Experts Planchers Décor are among its less structured banners.
Nationwide Marketing Group acquired Cantrex, a Canadian buying group, in May 2012 from Sears Canada. The newest division of NMG, Cantrex Nationwide says it is Canada's largest non-cooperative buying and marketing group, operating in seven industries: furniture, appliances, bedding, consumer electronics, photography, floor covering and home decor.
Together, Cantrex Nationwide and Nationwide Marketing Group contend they hold the largest market share in their industry. Members benefit from numerous synergies, including larger scale, improved efficiencies, greater buying power, more marketing clout, and enhanced resources.
Retail members can choose to operate all or part of their businesses under one or more banners. Every banner is supported with a service package that can include advertising, marketing, merchandising, product selection, pricing and operational support. The varied formats of the banners let members select the ones best suited to their business needs.
Cantrex Nationwide participates in Nationwide's semiannual PrimeTime buying show and member conference and supports such Canadian industry events such as the Canadian Home Furnishing Market in Toronto.
"Cantrex Nationwide believes that independent retailers are here to stay because they are passionate about their business and, unlike most big chains, have the expertise to sell high-end products and offer excellent customer service to demanding consumers," the group said in a statement.
Joining the group "gives Canadian independents the leverage to grow and prosper in ways impossible to them on their own," Cantrex said. Members benefit from greater buying power, exclusive product lines, and access to major vendors previously closed to them.
New marketing tools are available to members for free or at a nominal cost, including: in-store MemberNet TV, digital signage, customized HDTV commercials and advanced Web services to increase customer reach and exposure, expert training courses to boost closing rates, improve operational efficiencies and exploit the power of social media, and a centralized online hub for communications, pricing, industry news, consumer offers and promotional events.
Cantrex Nationwide said its strength in inventory financing and enhanced new marketing tools give members more power to differentiate themselves in their marketplace.
Nationwide Marketing Group
Headquarters: 110 Oakwood Drive, Suite 200, Winston-Salem, N.C. 27103
Year established: 1972
Group type: non-member owned service provider
Senior Management: Robert Weisner, president; Dave Bilas, executive vice president; Les Kirk, chief operating officer; Jeff Knock, senior vice president of marketing/appliances; Tom Hickman, senior vice president of electronics; Rick Weinberg, senior vice president of marketing; Doug Schatz, vice president of merchandising/electronics; Bill Bazemore, vice president of Nationwide Furniture; James MacAlpine, vice president of rental and business development.
Number of stores: more than 3,500
Number of storefronts: more than 10,000
Estimated sales all members and categories: $14 billion, including sales from Cantrex Nationwide
Nationwide Marketing Group is the largest buying and marketing group and the largest furniture buying organization in United States. The group's rental division, Rent Direct Nationwide, also is the largest buying group in the rent-to-own industry, it said. The acquisition of Cantrex - now Cantrex Nationwide - in May 2012 added 750 members. Nationwide and its divisions develop promotional and marketing strategies "so their independent retailers will be more profitable than ever," the group said.
Nationwide has a diverse membership, ranging from single-store operators with annual sales of $1 million to chains with revenues exceeding $200 million. Its furniture division, Nationwide Furniture, has more than 1,600 members, or more than half of the group's total membership, and estimated furniture, bedding and accessories sales of $3.5 billion.
The group also has a strategic alliance with Furniture Marketing Group, the 104-member buying group that includes many of the Top 100 U.S. furniture store retailers. Together, they work with common vendor partners and share certain marketing information.
Although members enjoy competitive pricing on exclusive private label products, the group is focused on driving traffic into its members' stores through innovative promotional and marketing tools. With a strong emphasis on member services, Nationwide says it also provides exclusive financing programs, training programs, a dedicated Web services team, and access to the biggest database of commercials, educational materials and other content to run in-store from its MemberNet TV programing.
Nationwide's major services include inventory and consumer financing, store design, order management systems, extended warranties, and digital signage.
These marketing and sell-through strategies are highlighted at its twice-yearly conference and buying event, called PrimeTime. The show is going on this week (March 3-6) in Las Vegas, and an Aug. 11-14 PrimeTime will be held at the Gaylord Texan in Dallas.
Casual Classics Furniture Group
Headquarters: 12210 Tributary Lane, Rancho Cordova, Calif. 95670
Year established: 2001
Group type: member-owned
Lead member: Buzz Homsy, owner of California Classics Backyard, Rancho Cordova, Calif., and buying group director.
Number of members as of Dec. 31: 53
Number of storefronts as of Dec. 31: 223
Estimated total retail sales, all members and product categories, 2012: $280 million
Casual Classics Furniture Group is the only group dedicated to outdoor casual furniture and related merchandise, including pool accessories, patio umbrellas, misting fans and outdoor heaters. With the exception of Nationwide Marketing Group, which acquired Cantrex last year, it also is the only buying group with members in the United States and Canada. It also has a member in Puerto Rico.
According to its website, Casual Classics Furniture Group "was developed to respond to growing mass merchants like Costco, Home Depot and Sam's Club. Founding members saw that as these retail giants got larger, smaller independents couldn't provide the volume they needed to support the suppliers. Ultimately, they'd be priced out of the market. Further, the members wanted to develop products that were unique and attractive at prices their consumers could afford."
The group's key services included volume purchasing, cooperative marketing, advertising, financing and business operations. It has exclusive agreements with 18 vendors producing a diverse line of goods made from materials such as teak, wicker, wrought iron and cast aluminum. All exclusive product is marketed under the Casual Classics label, which is trademarked and insured.
A typical member stores has about 15,000 square feet of selling space. About 75% of sales come from the furniture category.
The group is pursuing unfilled markets in Minnesota, New Mexico, Southern California, Florida, Hawaii, Arizona, Montana and Mississippi.
The group has an annual meeting in September during the International Casual Furniture & Accessories Market at the Merchandise Mart in Chicago. It also has showroom space for its members in the Mart in July and September.
Contemporary Design Group
Headquarters: 8380 Arjons Drive, San Diego, Calif. 92126.
Year established: 1983
Group type: non-member owned
Lead member: Howard Haimsohn, president of Lawrance Furniture, San Diego.
Advisory board: Bruce Selik, Hillside Furniture, Bloomfield Hills, Mich.; Kelly Wallman, San Francisco Design, Salt Lake City; Rick Howard, Sklar Furnishings, Boca Raton, Fla.; Carol Bell, Contents, Tucson, Ariz.; Andy Thornton, La- Difference, Richmond, Va.; and Jacob Harlow, The Century House, Madison, Wis.
Number of members as of Dec. 31: 22, up from 18 three years ago.
Number of storefronts as of Dec. 31: 37, up from 23 three years ago.
Total retail sales, all members and product categories: about $90 million.
Contemporary Design Group is the only North American buying and marketing group dedicated to a single home furnishings style - contemporary, primarily in medium to high-end price points.
Members typically are family- owned operations, with one to two stores that average about 18,000 square feet of selling space. Acton, Mass.-based Circle Furniture, which joined CDG in 2010, is a size exception with six stores in greater Boston. Members are typically furniture specialists, with furniture accounting for about 98.5% of sales and mattress sales making up the balance.
Annual sales per store range from about $2 million to $15 million.
Some product selection is done by committee, and the group has developed a Contemporary Design Group private label upholstery collection, using its logo as a hangtag and featuring exclusive product from Lazar Inds. and American Leather.
The group of non-competing retailers operates more as a performance group than a buying group, sharing financial data and other performance measures and strategic concepts.
Members meet during High Point Markets and informally at the Las Vegas Market, but its major annual event is its four- to five-day conference in San Diego each December, where CDG brings in industry experts, works with supplier partners and meets in closed-door sessions, sharing best practices, marketing strategies, sales management concepts and successes.
Dufresne Retail Solutions Group
Headquarters: 19 Thorne St. Suite 201, Cambridge, Ontario N1R 1S3
Year established: 2006
Group type: non-member-owned service provider
Senior management: Mark Dufresne, CEO; Steve Braniff, director; Shaun Dufresne, director of purchasing; Kevin Hook, directors of advertising; Rock Gioia, business development manager, Ontario and Atlantic Canada; Edward Cowx, business development manager, western Canada; and Troy Davis, president of parent The Dufresne Group.
Number of members as of Jan. 31: 67
Number of storefronts as of Jan. 31: 102
Estimated 2012 sales for all storefronts and categories: $300 million
Dufresne Retail Solutions Group, or dRSG, is a wholly owned subsidiary of The Dufresne Group, based in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The Dufresne Group also owns Dufresne Furniture & Appliances, an 11-unit chain with stores in Manitoba and Ontario, and operates 12 Ashley Furniture HomeStores in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta. It also supplies furniture, mattresses and appliances to the North West Co., a retailer that serves people living in the Arctic.
The Dufresne Group provides merchandising, advertising and other support services to dRSG members. Financial services such as central billing, volume rebates and inventory financing are sourced from Mega Group as dRSG is a member of Mega's strategic business unit.
DRSG offers two membership levels: associate and echelon. In addition to core services provided to all members, associate level membership includes a core bedding program, an extended warranty program, extended terms with suppliers and enhanced advertising.
Echelon level membership is similar to banner programs offered by other buying groups, but with territorial exclusivity. DRSG will not sign a competing retailer operating in the member's defined local market area.
DRSG also has a money-back guarantee for members. Any retailer that joins and isn't satisfied with the results after a year receives a complete refund of membership fees.
The group holds member meetings in January before the Canadian Home Furnishings Market in Toronto and in June, focusing on business practices and education. DRSG also exhibits at the Toronto market.
Furniture Marketing Group
Headquarters: 341 S. Wrenn St., High Point 27260
Year established: 1990
Group type: Member cooperative
Lead members: Oscar Miskelly, Miskelly Furniture, Jackson, Miss., president; Larry Klaben, Morris Home Furnishings, Dayton, Ohio, chairman. Other board members: David Koehler, Johnny Janosik, Laurel, Del.; Billy Rippner, Compass Furniture, Jefferson, La.; Ed Darcy, Mealey's Furniture, Warminster, Pa.; Vinnie Fonti, Furniture & ApplianceMart, Stevens Point, Wis.; Lee Goodman, Jerome's, San Diego; and Gary Steinhafel, Steinhafel's, Waukesha, Wis.
Staff: Mike Herschel, executive director; Dennis Hoy, director of merchandising; Ann Reece, accounts manager; Stacy Nichols, communications director, and Bonnie Wallace, office manager. Number of members as of Dec. 31: 103, up from 82 three years ago.
Number of storefronts as of Dec. 31: about 745, up from 540 three years ago.
Total retail sales, all members and product categories in 2012: about $3 billion, up from $1.75 billion three years ago.
FMG is operated solely for the benefit of member retailers, with the board made up of volunteer members. Its mission is to serve as an efficient conduit between its members and product and service providers. FMG vendor partners include many of the leading furniture, bedding and accessories manufacturers and importers, and the buying group offers industry leading programs through partnerships with Wells Fargo and other service providers.
Benefits from vendor partner programs flow entirely to members, the group said.
Among its achievements and milestones in the past two years, FMG broke the 100-member threshold in 2012. Compared to all the major buying groups in the industry, FMG noted it ranks as one of the smallest in total member companies, but one of the largest in total member volume in furniture sales. Currently, membership consists of 104 members, with about 750 stores and more than $3 billion in furniture, bedding and accessories sales. Included in this total are one dealer in Canada and one in the Bahamas. FMG members include retailers operating in at least 46 states, and 24 companies on Furniture/Today's Top 100.
FMG also has a strategic alliance with the Nationwide Marketing Group to work with common vendor partners and share certain marketing information.
The buying group contends it has the lowest overhead, with a staff of five people and a lowcost office in downtown High Point. Member dues support and sustain the staff and operation.
FMG says its programs are simple and streamlined. It works to support, not provide, member marketing and merchandising efforts, identifying best product and service providers and developing programs with them to offer to members directly. There is no need for central billing that might be appropriate to other groups, and it doesn't develop branded product, as its members' stores are their own brands, according to FMG.
The organization works to attract and serve the dominant local or regional furniture retailers with a track record of financial stability and commitment to the community. It tries to avoid overlaps in market areas as the ability for members to freely network is a key component of membership.
Among its newest members are Godby Home Furnishings, Noblesville, Ind.; Star Furniture, Houston; Knoxville Wholesale Furniture, Knoxville, Tenn.; Reeds Furniture, Agoura Hills, Calif.; Gardner- White Furniture, Auburn Hills, Mich.; Hanks Furniture, Sherwood, Ark.; and Furniture Mart, Jacksonville, Fla.
The normal minimum volume requirement to be considered for membership is about $8 million in annual sales, and the group takes proximity to existing members into consideration.
In July of 2012, owing to continued membership growth and organizational efficiencies, FMG's board of directors initiated a partial dues refund for the previous 12-month period; this has occurred twice before.
For the fourth consecutive year, FMG's Symposium was held over three days in Las Vegas in conjunction with the winter Las Vegas Market. FMG usually holds two annual membership meetings, on the opening days of the April and October High Point Markets.
Headquarters: 6041 Linglestown Rd., Harrisburg, Pa. 17112
Websites: www.furniturefirst.com and www.furniturefirst.coop
Year established: 1994
Group type: Member-owned
Lead member: Larry Smith, Smith Home Furnishings, Ponca City, Okla., chairman
Senior Management: Bill Hartman, president; Tony Moretti, vice president of merchandising; Amanda Daubert, vice president of administration; Shelly Burd, vice president of services/meeting planning; Lark Shirley-Stevens, vice president of communications; Ron Page, senior director of merchandising (case goods/leather); Andrew Kauffman, director of mattresses; Shauna Snyder, director of accents and accessories; Ryan Felix, director of websites; Kris McPherson, director of accounting.
Total employees: 16.
Banners: Furniture First Buying Group, Furniture First Cooperative, Furniture First Inc., Furniture First, Furniture 1st. Private label lines dedicated to single sources include Cozy Life, Design2Recline, Health 1st, Mattress 1st, Monsella Designs, Protection 1st and Simple Elegance. Private label lines open to one or more source include Madison Manor, Giovani Leather & Samuel Frederick Fine Furniture.
Number of members as of Dec. 31, 2012: 198, up from 174 three years ago.
Number of stores as of Dec. 31, 2012: 422, up from 378 three years ago.
Total retail sales, all members and product categories in 2012: $1.6 billion.
Furniture First's core competency is home furnishings and mattresses. The group has 104 home furnishings and mattress supplier partners and 36 service partners with a combined 140 programs designed to make and save members money.
Furniture First membership is geographically exclusive. The cooperative targets retailers who report more than $2 million in annual home furnishings and mattress sales. They must have a full line home furnishings store, good credit, sell medium- low to medium-high merchandise and have a willingness to share and participate. New businesses are not accepted. Upon joining, members must have been in business for at least five years.
Members pay a one-time refundable stock fee of $1,250, quarterly dues of $1,000 and 20% allocation of all rebates collected. The average member allocates 50% of their purchasing power to Furniture First supplier partners, which earns them an average of $38,000 annually in volume rebates.
The typical Furniture First member is a third generation, two-store operation with $8 million in annual sales. Stores average 35,000 square feet of selling space. Members have an average Lyons credit rating of 2 and an excellent community reputation.
Members receive a weekly electronic newsletter called "The Weekly Confidential," updating them on that week's supplier and industry activities, and a monthly consumer newsletter. Other features include a Fact Tag program with 10,000 SKUs, quality credit card and consumer financing programs, a retailer bulletin board, a member pass code-protected website, seven private-label programs, symposiums, rebates and new-member webinars held each month.
The group has a new permanent showroom in High Point (International Home Furnishings Center, G-770) and one in Las Vegas (World Market Center, B-962). Each serves as a stage for introducing new programs, group shops, educational sessions and networking. Members also work in committees to set the tone of the group's agenda. The marketing committee, for example, is expected to announce details for a "National Furniture Sale" at its April general membership and annual meeting in High Point.
Also, the mattress committee is developing both a freestanding mattress store and a mattress store-within-a-store concept to be unveiled at the May 13-15 Symposium in New Orleans, which is expected to draw more than 200 people. The Symposium will feature five outside industry expert speakers and three members-only networking sessions. There also will be more than 40 vendor booths and meet-and-greet times throughout the event.
Headquarters: 34 Henry St., St. Jacobs, Ontario
Year established: 1978
Group type: member-owned
Senior management: Paul Straus, president and CEO, Home Hardware Stores Limited
Number of members as of Dec. 31: 56
Number of storefronts as of Dec. 31: 56
Home Furniture is the furniture banner within Home Hardware Stores Limited, which is Canadian- owned and operated. Home Hardware has a presence in every Canadian province and territory and is the country's largest independent, dealer-owned hardware, lumber, building materials and furniture cooperative, according to the group.
Founded Jan. 1, 1964 by 122 independent hardware dealers, the cooperative now includes nearly 1,100 stores under the Home Hardware, Home Building Centre, Home Hardware Building Centre and Home Furniture banners, with annual collective retail sales of more than C$5 billion.
As a privately owned company, Home does not disclose sales for the Home Furniture banner, but said furniture and mattresses account for 69.3% of sales with appliances making up the balance. The typical Home Furniture store is a family-owned, single-unit operation with an average of 8,972 square feet of selling space.
Home Hardware's independent dealer-owners are recognized by the North American Retail Hardware Assn. as Canada's best-trained dealer group, according to the group, and have access to a large selection of products and a world-class distribution system, and provide quality products and services at competitive prices.
Key services include central billing, inventory and consumer financing, advertising, store design and exclusive product development.
Members attend the Canadian Home Furnishings Market in January and the Home Hardware Stores Limited annual spring and fall markets in St. Jacobs, Ontario.
Mega Group USA
Headquarters: 7511 Capital Drive, Germantown, Tenn. 38138
Year established: 1983
Group type: member-owned
Senior management: Rick Bellows, president; Jerry Honea, vice president furniture/mattress; Jim Sendrak, vice president/electronics; Scott McFarland, vice president/information technology; and Mallory Parker, vice president/business services.
Number of members as of Dec. 31: 1,700, up from 1,400 at year-end 2009.
Number of storefronts as of Dec. 31: 2,500, up from 2,100 at year-end 2009.
Number of members selling furniture/mattress as of Dec. 31: 1,200.
Number of storefronts selling furniture/mattress as of Dec. 31: 1,800
Total Retail Sales, all members and product categories, 2012: $4 billion, up from $3 billion in 2009, despite slight decreases in member and store counts. Furniture, bedding and accessories sales for all members were about $2.8 billion in 2012.
The buying and marketing group is forecasting total retail sales of $4.5 billion in 2013. In addition to furniture, mattresses, appliances, and electronics, the group also offers an assortment of seasonal and outdoor products. Advantages to joining Mega include group volume discounts and rebates, participation in lower cost programs for financing, advertising, and Web marketing, and gaining knowledge via the Mega University learning program.
Mega Group USA offers an exclusive mattress program featuring the 38-SKU Dreamhaven Collection, which includes private label Perfect Sleeper and iSeries products under the Dreamhaven umbrella made by Serta. For 2013, it is delivering a 12- group Private Reserve upholstery collection from an undisclosed domestic resource, hitting $599 to $799 price points. In addition, Mega has developed its private-label Mega Product Protection program that has become one of its most popular programs, with double-digit gains annually.
The group offers central billing services to its members as well as inventory and consumer financing. Support services include exclusive product development, advertising, store design, and a Web marketing program, Mega Webfronts.
A new initiative for 2013 is the RS3 Training Program for retail management and sales staff that delivers a 22-module package to improve sales productivity.
The majority of Mega Group USA members are family-owned single-unit operations in the 37 states east of the Rocky Mountains. However, new opportunities are opening in the West, which now accounts for 125 members and is growing. The average member is a furniture-dominant store that is ranked either first or second in a suburban market, with 20,000 square feet of space generating 70% of annual sales from furniture, 15% from mattress, 10% from appliances and 5% from electronics. Total sales for the typical member range from $2 million to $10 million.
Mega Group USA holds two member conventions annually, usually in February and August. Its next convention is set for Aug. 18-21 at the Renaissance Hotel in Nashville, Tenn. The group also will exhibit at the Las Vegas Market, July 28-31, in a 5,000-square-foot showroom in the World Market Center, B-1154.
Headquarters: 720 First Ave. North, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan S7K 6R9
Year established: 1965
Group type: member-owned
Lead member: Wayne Hambly, Hambly's Brand- Source Home Furnishings, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, chairman.
Senior management: Benoit Simard, president and CEO; Kevin Leier, executive vice president/chief financial officer; Michael Vancura, executive vice president/retail operations.
Banners: BrandSource, BrandSource Home Furnishings, Ameublement BrandSource and Sleep Experience.
Number of members as of December 31: 588
Total retail sales for all members and product categories for 2012: estimated at just under C$2 billion for 2012, up slightly from the prior year and up from C$1.67 billion for 2009.
Mega Group successfully relaunched Brand- Source with the rebranding of Countrywide and Multi Meubles into BrandSource Home Furnishings and Ameublements BrandSource, respectively, a Canadian version of the Associated Volume Buyers BrandSource initiative in the United States. Currently, 150 members have signed on to the program, including all members of Mega's Countrywide and Multi Meubles banners, its two key retail systems.
Organizationally, Mega is segmented into three subgroups. The first includes its 206 shareholders - all independent retailers, who elect the group's board.
The second segment includes the independent retailers that use all of Mega's services and programs but are not shareholders.
The third is Mega's "strategic business unit," which provides central billing and other key administrative support services (but not merchandising or marketing services) to other retail groups. Among these are: End of the Roll, 55-store floor covering retailer; Foto Source, a 200-store member owned retail group specializing in photography and photo finishing; Visions, a 30-store electronics retailer; and The Dufresne Group, the Winnipeg, Manitoba-based operator of Dufresne Furniture & Appliances and the Dufresne Retail Solutions Group.
The typical Mega Group/BrandSource Home Furnishings member is a single-unit, family-owned and operated store with 15,000 square feet of selling space. Sales mix for the typical member is 60% furniture, 10% mattresses, 25% appliances and 5% electronics.
Mega holds a general meeting and conference for its shareholders once a year. This year's event will be at the Fairmount Hotel in Vancouver, British Columbia, May 13-15. The group also holds marketing and merchandising meetings immediately before the Canadian Home Furnishings Market each January and also shows at the market.
Pacific Furniture Dealers
Headquarters: 4708 NE Thurston Way, Vancouver, Wash.
Year established: 1968
Group type: member-owned
Senior management: Jeff Weinstein, executive director
Number of members as of Dec. 31: 62, down one from year end 2009.
Number of storefronts as of Dec. 31: 73, up two from year end 2009.
Total retail sales, all members and product categories: $200 million.
Pacific Furniture Dealers is a regional buying group with member stores primarily in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Alaska, Northern California, Utah and Arizona.
PFD members are primarily furniture and bedding dealers. The typical member is a family owned, single-store operator with 12,000 to 15,000 square feet of selling space and annual sales of about $1.5 million.
Group services include central billing, volume rebates and exclusive product development. Among other things, PFD works closely with Stanton Upholstery to develop exclusive frame and/or cover applications. It has container programs with Aspen home and Steve Silver, where members can get container pricing with little minimum requirements, and also offers a bedding program through Simmons, a PFD partner since 1991.
Style Trend Furniture Group
Headquarters: P.O. Box 286, Eagles Mere, Pa. 17731
Year established: 1952
Group type: member-owned
President: Walter Beck, Gamburg's Furniture, Hatboro, Pa.
Number of members as of Dec 31, 2012: 6
Number of storefronts as of Dec 31, 2012: 9
Total retail sales, all members, all product categories: $55 million
The Style Trend Furniture Group, also known as STG, was formed more than 60 years ago by a group of prominent family-owned furniture stores in the tri-state Philadelphia area. The typical STG store has a minimum of 15,000 square feet of selling space, is a family owned operation with one or two storefronts, and is typically a furniture specialist. Mattresses make up the balance of sales.
Group members advertise merchandise in high quality printed circulars and broadsheets that are produced six to 10 times a year. These items can be individually customized and there is flexibility of pricing and product as long as members show STG partnering factory merchandise.
The group's members meet throughout the year to decide which merchandise will be purchased, what will appear in each circular/broadsheet, and other issues such as co-op and special pricing and terms with manufacturers to maximize the group's purchasing power.
Members shop together during High Point markets. Membership in the group also allows stores to network with fellow members on a variety of subjects. While all members operate in the tri-state area, prior to admitting new members, Style Trend ensures that there are no market-area conflicts with existing members.
TBG - The Buying Giant
Headquarters: 120 Poston Place, Harriman, Tenn. 37748
Senior management: Bethel Poston, executive director
Group type: member-owned.
Number of members as of Dec. 31: 144, up from 70 members at the end of 2009.
Number of storefronts as of Dec. 31: about 160, up about 77 from 2009.
Total retail sales, all members and product categories, 2012: estimated $250 million
TBG - The Buying Giant is a multi-regional group with members now in 32 states, up from 12 states three years ago. Its members are furniture and mattress dominant retailers, though several carry appliances and electronics.
Members are typically family- owned operations with one to four stores ranging from 15,000 to about 120,000 square feet of space.
Major group services include volume rebates and pricing, private-label goods and networking and sharing of needed merchandise between members. TBG also recently added a group insurance program.
In February 2012, TBG and Mega Group USA formed an alliance to share certain product programs and marketing information. This alliance contributed to a substantial increase in TBG membership, the buying group said.
TBG holds semiannual member meetings during Tupelo Furniture Markets and has a permanent showroom in the market, space No. 3000.
The Rental Industry Buying Group
Headquarters: 2775 Cruse Road, Suite 2401, Lawrenceville, Ga. 30044
Year established: 1983
Group type: member-owned
Lead Member: Chris Bolin, Bolin Rental Purchase, Clarkesville, Tenn., president
Senior management: Dennis Shields, executive director; Karl Wicker, services coordinator; and Rebecca Hinton, public relations and administration coordinator.
Number of members as of Dec. 31: 163
Number of storefronts as of Dec. 31: 3,501
The Rental Industry Buying Group, or TRIB Group, is the only member-owned buying and marketing group dedicated to serving the rent-to-own channel of the furniture and mattress industry as well the electronics and appliance industries. TRIB is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year.
The group's broad membership includes major national chains, such as Atlanta-based Aaron's - the publicly held RTO chain with more than 2,000 company-owned and franchised stores - as well as the majority of independent retail dealers across the United States. About 65% of its members are independent dealers operating one to five stores.
TRIB is governed by a nine-member board of owner operators elected by membership annually.
The group would not disclose estimated revenues for it members, but said 40% of revenues is in the furniture and mattresses categories. Consumer electronics account for 32% and appliances account for 28%.
TRIB has a strategic alliance with buying group AVB/BrandSource, giving TRIB members access to many of BrandSource's programs and services. The group and its members also are active in the Assn. of Progressive Rental Organizations, or APRO.
TRIB hosts two member meetings each year, both co-located with the BrandSource trade shows. It recently concluded its annual convention in Orlando, Fla., and will holds its annual Meeting of the Minds and fall buy fair Aug. 26-28 at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas.