By Martin Vedris

AUCKLAND, NZ: Franchisor BSR Australia Limited, the new company behind Betta Electrical and Chandlers, today officially announced that member retailers at their national conference last night elected a new five-person board to be headed by chairman Garry Thyer.

The new board, named following a ballot at BSR’s inaugural annual conference, comprises Thyer and directors Chris Hocking, Dominic McClelland, Glen Cain and Rex Graham.

“I commend BSR retailers on the board they have chosen, which boasts an excellent blend of retail experience and management expertise,” Thyer said. “BSR has enjoyed a successful beginning since its launch last year and our task now is to lead the group through its next stage of development.

“The BSR Group has a solid platform from which it can expand and we’re now expecting to oversee an acceleration of growth for the group, both in sales and store numbers,” Thyer continued. “Our focus will also be on reinvesting in infrastructure and the services that we provide back to our retailers.”

BSR Australia Limited and its subsidiary, BSR Franchising Pty Limited, were formed last year to meet the buying and marketing needs of Betta Electrical and Chandlers retailers, who acquired the brands after franchisor Betta Stores Limited was placed into receivership.

The BSR group began trading on Thursday 9 November 2006 with an interim board of three members – Everard Johnson, Garry Thyer and Rex Graham.

Johnson is widely regarded as the architect behind the rejuvenation of the Betta Electrical brand and the formation of BSR after the collapse of the Newcastle Stock Exchange listed Betta Stores Limited. He resigned as chairman of the group in May this year to concentrate on his retail business and to spend more time with his family.

At the BSR national conference, Johnson received a standing ovation from delegates for his work in reforming the buying group.

The national conference was attended by over 300 retailers and supplier delegates. According to Thyer there was a great feeling of camaraderie at the conference and that spirits were high following BSR’s excellent launch period, the declaration of a final dividend and the strong support for the group demonstrated by leading suppliers. He said he expects the buoyant and upbeat mood at the conference to flow into the year ahead.

Earlier this month BSR Australia announced a net profit after tax of $1.4 million from its first five months of trading, a result that comfortably exceeded budget and positions the company for a strong 2008 financial year. The better-than-expected profit allowed BSR to declare a final dividend of 5.2 cents a share, equivalent to 15 per cent of the parent company’s pre-tax earnings.

“The confidence of BSR Group retailers was never more evident than in the stronger-than-expected volume of orders placed at the conference, setting the tone for the remainder of financial 2008,” he said.

Speakers at the conference included Thyer, general manager Ian Brown and passionate presentations from key BSR departmental managers from buying, marketing and IT. Keynote speaker John Anderson, the founder of Contiki, was met with ecstatic applause following his uplifting rags-to-riches tale.

The conference concluded with a gala evening and awards dinner. During the dinner, the Betta Electrical Retailer of the Year award was presented to Guy and Tanya Nichols who own Betta Electrical stores in Muswellbrook, Scone and Singleton. The Chandlers retailer of the year Award was presented to Brent and Bronwyn Jordison of Gladstone Chandlers.

Key Group supplier Electrolux was named Supplier of the Year – Major Appliances and Sunbeam was named Supplier of the Year – Portable Appliances. Brown also called all suppliers who attended the conference to the stage to accept awards of appreciation for their support of the BSR group.

Guests reportedly celebrated the success of the event itself and the performance of the BSR Group into the small hours of the morning.