By Patrick Avenell

SYDNEY, NSW: Clive Peeters’ unique product range strategy means that it’s impossible to compare its progress accurately with any other retailer. That’s what managing director Greg Smith said when asked him why some retail groups, such as JB Hi-Fi and WOW Sight & Sound, are expanding aggressively, whilst others, including Harvey Norman and Smith’s own group, are maintaining a more conservative approach during the uncertain economic climate.

In a recent interview, asked Smith why it was that a competitor like JB Hi-Fi could be so gung-ho with its expansion, whereas Clive Peeters is maintaining a no new stores policy and even closing some underperforming outlets. He said that when it comes to comparing Clive Peeters with any other retailer, it’s all apples and oranges.

“They’re in sort of a different space really,” he replied. “JB’s average sale is about $60 and ours is about $800, so we’re at quite different ends of the spectrum, and they’re in that area which is booming: gaming and music and all those digital accessory type products. We’re not a very significant player in those categories; we carry some of them, [but] nothing like a Harveys does and certainly nothing like JB does.”

So is Clive Peeters’ product mix unique? “Yes,” said Smith.

“We’re very difficult to match up to. Probably the nearest comparison to us, until they started to play around with it, was Clive Anthonys, and more recently JB’s been refining that model; as I understand, it hasn’t been going that well for them, and they’re really taking that more into a commodity area, probably positioning it more to be like a Good Guys type approach.

“There’s no-one out there in the market place that compares to us with our focus on the middle to upper end of the market and premium goods and covering all the product categories, so we’re not easy to line up to in a comparison.

“We are 50 per cent skewed towards whitegoods so that makes us very unique.”

So if Clive Peeters can’t be benchmarked to a competing group, how will the industry know when things are set to improve? Smith identified one particular factor integral to Clive Peeters’ recovery.

“We come into our own when the housing markets are strong. The housing market’s been quite flat the last couple of years; at some stage the housing cycle will turn and the housing market will lift, and that’s when we’ll the enjoy the benefit of it.”