Paul Holt not stopping after a busy year for Retra WA

By James Wells

PERTH: It has been a busy 12 months for Retravision WA CEO Paul Holt and his team in the fastest growing market in Australia, but if this year is anything to go by, 2008 is shaping up to be a very eventful year in the West.

Just after Christmas last year, Holt secured 12 former Betta Electrical stores who left the Betta Stores Retail (BSR) group to join Retravision WA under the Best Buy Electrical banner. The new retailers were secured after a secret meeting of 20 stores was held in late November last year. Despite an overwhelming majority voting in favour of the proposal, not every business that wished to defect was accepted into the group.

The decision to start Best Buy Electrical followed a failed bid to purchase the Betta Electrical and Chandlers brands in Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory that was estimated at approximately $500,000 from the receiver of Betta Stores Limited, Phil Carter of Pricewaterhouse Coopers.

Holt estimated at the time that up to 400 stores were possible under the Best Buy Electrical banner including 50 in WA, South Australia and the Northern Territory. The Best Buy Electrical brand sits alongside Retravision WA’s existing sub-brands Fridge & Washer City and West Coast Hi-Fi.

At the beginning of this year, Holt claimed Retravision WA outperformed Harvey Norman in the first half of the financial year by recording like-for-like sales of 28 per cent in the six months to 31 December 2006 as the group’s sales increased to over $200 million from 50 stores at the time.

In March, Mount Gambier Betta Electrical left its buying group after 17 and a half years to join Retravision WA after a deal was done to close an existing corporate store in the South Australian town.

In April this year, the $30 million South Australian seven-store Truscotts group left the Betta Stores Retail group and joined Retravision WA.

"This alliance builds on the Retravision Western strategy of creating a fortress for strong, independent electrical retailers in the Retravision Western region (WA/SA/NT) and provides a further brand option for independent electrical retailer currently dissatisfied with their franchise service provider, particularly those based in South Australia," Holt said at the time.

In May, Retravision WA stores – the Dorsett Group and Joondalup won the awards for multi-store retailer and store of the year over 1,000 square metres respectively at the Retravision national seminar in Alice Springs.

In July this year, Retravision WA attracted Broken Hill electrical proprietor Peter McEvoy, who shifted his Silver City Betta Electrical store to Retravision WA after 15 years of trading.

In September this year, the most high profile member of the Retravision WA group, Kambo’s Retravision announced it would undertake an expansion of its brand dropping the co-branding and create a superstore network consisting of three or four stores within three years. The Kambo’s Malaga store, which turnsover $30 million in sales annually, will retain its Retravision branding until July 2008, when the new Canning Vale store opens. The Malaga store was recognised by over 100 suppliers nationally as the Retail Store of the Year at the 2007 Electrical Retailing Awards (ERAs).

Last month, Holt conceded that although only one new retailer has joined the group in the six months to the end of October, he has plans to open a number of new stores in WA and South Australia and reminded his competitor – Betta Stores Retail – that he will continue to be competitive.

“There is room only for one independent operator [of appliance retailers] in Australia and that is going to be Retravision or a related brand,” he said. “All our brands are available for other independents to consider. We are here and growing our business and if people want to speak to me about an opportunity, they have my number," Holt told Current.com.au last month.

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