Specialist-trade brand EP: growing despite a shrinking market
Local companies in Austria and the Netherlands continue to show a positive development
The ElectronicPartner Buying Group can look back on the 2015 financial year with satisfaction. At 1,570 billion euros in the core market Germany, central sales are slightly below the prior year. The minimal decline is due to the outsourcing of the mobile communications business to Sparhandy GmbH. In August, ElectronicPartner announced that it was taking a majority shareholding in the Cologne-based company, and simultaneously bundled the purchasing and sales of mobile communications hardware under the umbrella of Sparhandy GmbH. This was accompanied by a shift in sales in the mobile communications business in the last year in the three-digit million range. Overall therefore, the year was a very successful one for the Düsseldorf buying group.
“We had a very strong prior year in 2014, with additional sources of sales such as the football World Cup. Given this background, we are particularly proud that the EP: brand was able to grow further – although, according to the market research company ‘Gesellschaft für Konsumforschung’, the share of the distribution channel specialist trade in overall sales of consumer electronics declined by around five percent in 2015.
This shows: our concept of the quality offensive is a complete success and specialist trade with profile has optimum opportunities for the future”, explains Karl Trautmann, Member of the Managing Board at ElectronicPartner.
In the individual product groups, above all white goods were strong in small and large electrical appliances, and again increased their share in the sales of the buying group. There was a similar trend in mobile communications hardware. “The TV area developed as expected in our conservative planning, and declined. In the IT/multimedia product group, we were unable to achieve the sales of the prior year due to the special effects of Windows XP. One pillar that remains strong and on a growth path is the marketing of services in the finance and insurance sector", adds Trautmann. The heterogeneous situation in the individual areas thus reflects the overall challenging year.
Development of the brands
With over 90 conversions of specialist stores under the EP: brand, it is clear that the quality offensive of 2014 is now also bearing fruit externally. Internally, above all IT structures are changing, in order to improve the interchange of data between dealers, cooperation partners and industry. This investment is simultaneously an important basis for the online shop that dealers are currently getting to know during a test phase. It will replace the current reservation function and further open the way to becoming an omnichannel provider.
The specialist-outlet line MEDIMAX 2015 made headlines with a premiere and broadcast TV spots for the first time for the year-end business. The Web presentation also changed. Since July of last year, customers have been able to select and pay for products directly online, before collecting them from their nearest outline. Additional functions are in the implementation phase here. The current total of over 125 outlets in Germany are further improving their external image through numerous conversions.
In the IT segment, the Channel Network comTeam started against an extremely strong first quarter 2014 and, on the basis of a successful year, demonstrated that the fall in sales at the beginning was attributable to the replacement of Windows XP. Apart from this, comTeam again demonstrated through diverse activities – for example at CeBIT or the System House Conference -just how strong and lively the dialogue in the network is. This year, comTeam will again participate in the Planet Reseller at CeBIT (Hall 15, Stand F75). The network partners will be meeting at the System House Conference in Cologne from 17-18 June.
“We have invested in a very successful future for our brands and our member companies in many different areas – be this in the external image through shopfitting or TV advertisements, or in the IT structure. In this way, we have demonstrated, even in a difficult market environment, just how important the further development of the ElectronicPartner Buying Group is for us”, says Karl Trautmann.
In international business, the two largest local companies Netherlands and Austria continued their growth path from the previous years, while in Switzerland the Buying Group struggled as a result of the strong franc. Belgium, by far the smallest local company, is down on the prior year. In total, ElectronicPartner ended its 2015 international business with sales of 388 million euros and an increase of 2.6 percent. As a result, the overall sales of the Buying Group are 1.958 billion euros and 2 percent below the prior year.