‘Our retailers must work harder’: Betta boss

By Patrick Avenell

BRISBANE, QLD: Betta Electrical retailers will have to work harder to increase group profits during the current economic climate, according BSR general manager, Ian Brown.

One week after announcing a slight increase in profit for the group for the year to 31 March 2010, Brown said the confluence of higher interest rates, relatively low consumer confidence and the expansion of BSR’s competitors meant retailers in the group must continually improve if BSR is to maintain its growth.

Most important for Brown in this strategy is BSR’s regional consumer base. He said that holding and improving BSR’s market share in regional and rural areas was key to continued success.

“We have a regional strategy where most of our retailers are in regional areas,” Brown said. “What we’re trying to do is maintain or increase our market share in those regional areas, in other words, our existing retailers need to work harder and smarter.”

Brown said that because BSR was operating under more modest means that some of its major competitors – Harvey Norman was listed as one example – it was unable to expand through acquisition, such as through the purchasing of Clive Peeters stores. Brown admitted concern at Harvey’s 32-store overnight growth last week, saying that this move further improved Harvey Norman’s economies of scale.

Although incapable of any large scale acquisitions from the remnants of Clive Peeters, Brown did say that some opportunities may still exist for BSR from the collapse of one its rivals.

“We’ve seen some opportunities in some of the areas and maybe some of those opportunities are still existent … we’ll obviously get some benefits from the demise of the Clive Peeters group, but it’s just too early to talk about those,” Brown said.

Despite admitting Clive Peeters’ demise had some benefits, Brown said that on a macro level, this collapse had been bad for the industry as a whole.

“It has enormous impact right across the board, particularly in the area of credit insurance. It makes a hell of an issue in our industry: it’s not good for anyone.”

Brown’s final word on BSR’s future expansion concerned its online presence. Although he was unable to give firm details on BSR’s plans, he did say that this was an area that the group was focused on, and would be exploring with greater emphasis in the short-to-medium term.

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