The electrical retail industry is set for a sea change as the battered Retravision brand changes hands, with dozens of stores likely to migrate to other chains or close down.
Retravision Western chief executive Paul Holt yesterday said the business would be wound down and the 60-year-old brand acquired by retail buying group Narta by April.
He said the Retravision name would likely disappear on the east coast but survive in WA with about 25 bigger stores. There are about 180 Retravision outlets nationwide.
"There's no reason why we can't continue to drive that brand very successfully in Western Australia," Mr Holt told WestBusiness. "There is no brand contamination from a consumer perspective."
The drastic step follows the collapses of the Retravision buying groups in Victoria and NSW, which led to suppliers and insurers tightening constraints on the chain.
Mr Holt said the winding down of the WA business - which has been acting for Retravision stores nationwide - would avoid following the others into administration.
"It is clear that to remain on our own without access to substantial public funds or being part of a multibillion-dollar buying group is no longer viable," he said in a letter to shareholders.
Retravision has also struck a deal in which board vice-chairman David Dorsett-Lynn's Dorsett group will acquire company-owned stores in Cannington and Rockingham and wholesaler Electsales. The group already owns four stores.
The company-owned Mandurah store will be closed by next month, which Mr Holt said reflected the poor retail environment there.
He said market conditions generally were the worst in recent memory, with the company suffering a 25 per cent fall in business from a year earlier.
The Narta group includes retailers David Jones, Betta Electrical, Bi-Rite Electrical and Kambo's.
The letter to Retravision shareholders said stores with annual turnovers below $3 million might not be accommodated under the Narta platform. About 100 Retravision stores are trading below $1.5 million per annum in purchases.
Mr Holt said smaller stores in WA might be able to join Narta member Betta Electrical.
For the Eastern States, the Leading Edge Group was named as a possible suitor.
He conceded store closures were a possibility. "We are trying to find a solution for everybody irrespective of size," he said.
Kambo's managing director Peter Kambouris said he was confident of bringing over six WA stores to his franchise and was in discussions with six other owners. "Some of the best operators in Retravision will hopefully make their exit to Kambo's," Mr Kambouris said.
Doug Basham, owner of two Retravision stores in Wongan Hills and Moora, said he had made a deal to join one of the Narta group chains. Mr Basham, whose family has been part of the chain for about 50 years, said he expected store closures and little return for shareholders once the group was wound up.
"We are now in a situation where the wealth of the company has been sacrificed on the altar," he said.