Opinion by Patrick Avenell
The new Leading Appliances group will officially come into being on Monday 1 April 2013 — Easter Monday — perhaps not the most convenient start date for a company looking to right the wrongs of previous administrative calamities.
Current.com.au has written at lengths about the failings of Retravision Southern and Northern over the past 18 months, and about Leading Appliance’s ambitious plans to run a leaner and meaner organisation for its members.
These stories were based on hundreds of phone calls, emails, faxes and even a few letters — the feedback from the industry has been incredible — from what we’ve heard, read and seen, Leading Appliances has a lot of support to get the job done right.
Here are five things they need to do be successful:
Justify their existence: The inclusion of Leading Appliances in the Retravision-sold-to-Narta story threw a lot of people off guard — some Retra members hadn’t even heard of them — so they have to prove their worth to a whole new set of constituents. Although Leading Appliances is 25 per cent cheaper in membership fees than Retra, it’s still a considerable investment in an unknown quantity. That money has to be spent properly and not on worthless vanity projects like Retravision Southern’s expensive rebranding initiative.
Sort out Sydney: Based on our research — Leading Appliances neither confirmed nor denied — Rozelle Electrical World is the only member based in Australia’s biggest city. We understand all the Emerald City Retravisions have switched to other groups or closed. That means there is no scale for electronic advertising or major metro print campaigns. The only marketing support that one store can justify is local area catalogues.
Start a website: Put ‘Leading Appliances’ into Google and the front page is all stories from Current.com.au. There is no LeadingAppliances.com or .com.au. Leading Appliances needs to buy these domain names and construct an optimised, attractive website to promote the locations of its stores. Selling online must come in the near future, but until those systems are in place, a dedicated website is absolutely essential.
UPDATE: The Leading Edge Group has purchased the leadingappliances.com.au domain.
Stick to the big brands: The temptation to fly up to Guangzhou, source cheap appliances, stick on a house brand and then flog it with a razor thin margin is incredibly strong in the appliance retailing game — but it’s clearly not sustainable. The mass merchants have made it clear that there will never be beaten on price or product un-quality when it comes to house brands so there is no point in competing. Does Leading Appliances really want to recall thousands of blenders, toasters, kettles, heaters and on and on and on like Woolworths and Kmart?
Expand conservatively: After a few successful seasons, the A-League began expanding aggressively, planting new teams in Townsville and the Gold Coast, despite there clearly being no market for a dedicated soccer team. It was a disaster, borne out of greed and over-ambition, and it cost the A-League money, respect and fans. Fast forward to now and the West Sydney Wanderers are top of the table and playing for the premiership this weekend. The Wanderers are successful because they were set up in an area that wanted a soccer team, had a market for a soccer team and there was a niche to exploit. If Leading Appliances can pick their moments to expand, choosing judiciously from the 10-or-so applicants currently awaiting approval, the group will become stronger over time.
Do you have five more tips? Tell us what you think