By Patrick Avenell
When Elton Cummings left school in 1971, he went to work in the family business: electrical retailing servicing the New South Wales far north coast. He and his family have always been part of the Retravision community, so there will be a mixture of sadness and optimism when he puts up a metaphorical Bi-Rite shingle this weekend and begins a new trading life in the Narta Group.
A.Cummings Electrical network includes five stores in northern New South Wales and southeast Queensland, incorporating partnership with Furniture Court, Beds R Us, Jaycar, Danoz and, from 1 September 2012, Bi-Rite Electrical.
The decision to make this move was not an easy or quick one, Cummings said, with the family forced to consider their future after the collapse of Retravision Southern led to major changes in the wider Retravision group’s business. Specifically, with the move from central to direct accounts, Cummings was not able to secure the credit lines he required for his retail chain.
“We’ve been in the industry for 64 years and manufacturers were asking us to prove ourselves, which was giving us a little bit of a problem because we were selling more stock than we were getting credit for,” Cummings told Current.com.au.
“We waited three months, we did all the applications, talked to all the manufacturers — and they were all sympathetic — saying ‘no problems, we go along we’ll increase your credit limits, it will just take two or three months’
“Retravision wasn’t able to provide us with more facilities than what they had to work through it, and we had to move to a group that was able to facilitate our organisation more, which was Bi-Rite, so we migrated across.”
The stores, in Lismore, Ballina, Yamba and Grafton in New South Wales, and the Gold Coast in Queensland, will retain their A.Cummings Electrical branding, with minimal references to Bi-Rite. Cummings said this will be consistent with how the stores trading during the company’s long tenure with Retravision.
Furthermore, the A.Cummings Electrical online store will remain the same. In addition to sales through this website, customers have the option to rent certain products through Cummings’ association with Local Rentals.
The most exciting part of this change, Cummings said, was access to a new suite of brands previously unavailable from Retravision.
“Brands like LG, Beko, some Apple stuff — all those brands that Retravision didn’t have access to — we’re looking forward to those challenges and looking forward to a big strong future,” he said, before adding that although the future was bright, it was still tinged with sadness.
“It’s terribly sad to leave — I’ve known nothing but Retravision since I left school 41 years ago and my brothers and sisters and family have always been with Retravision — we’ve known nothing different — we do now though.”