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EXCLUSIVE: PhotoPlus, Leading Edge combine to form largest group

April 27, 2011: PhotoPlus and Leading Edge Digital have launched a new strategic alliance, called PhotoEdge, which will comprise over 100 independent photo stores Australia-wide.

The new PhotoEdge group, to launch on July 1, will be Australia’s largest retail group in terms of shopfronts, surpassing Camera House which has around 90 member stores. (Camera House remains the largest group in terms of turnover.)
There are around 50 Kodak Express member stores in the Leading Edge Digital group, while PhotoPlus has also built its numbers to over 50 during the past few years, at the same time expanding its territorial reach out from its Victorian base.

Wayne Styles, president of PhotoPlus, said that PhotoEdge ‘will create new synergies for our members and suppliers.’

‘By bringing the two groups together we will be able to increase our sales volume and combine our advertising and marketing resources to reach a much broader audience.’

Leading Edge members were notified of the development yesterday afternoon via email, while PhotoPlus members gathered in the Melbourne suburb of Mt Waverley to be briefed directly by Wayne Styles.

The new group will not require members to re-brand their stores – PhotoEdge is purely a wholesale name, explained Mr Styles. The main advertising focus would be catalogues, with the same catalogue available to each store in the new expanded group, overprinted with store details.

Leading Edge will have the freedom to recruit from retailers outside of the Kodak Express membership, as has been the case in the past..

PhotoEdge will be developing new supplier arrangements for consumer products as well, and Mr Styles said the new arrangement would prove positive to suppliers as well as Leading Edge and PhotoPlus members.

Neither group currently runs a warehouse, and supply to stores will continue to be direct from wholesalers to members of the amalgamated group.

Mr Styles said that members of both groups would now enjoy a broader product offering, with each making up for gaps in the others’ supplier list.

He said that new paper and chemistry supply arrangements would be negotiated for PhotoEdge members.

PhotoPlus members would also benefit from being part of a much larger infrastructure. Leading Edge Digital is part of the broader Leading Edge Group, with buying/marketing divisions across channels such as computing, electronics, jewelery, books, music, golf and mobile phones, comprising over 1500 independent retailers and employing 250 staff at its head office in the Sydney suburb of Gordon.

The Leading Edge group also has a presence in New Zealand, so there is potential to recruit Kiwi photo retailers to the new PhotoEdge group as well.

PhotoPlus members would enjoy broader ‘fringe benefits’, with Leading Edge having the critical mass to offer options such as attractive credit card rates, central billing and insurance benefits to members,

There are no plans for an online marketing presence ‘as yet’ according to Mr Styles.

‘Six years ago there were something like 2300 specialist photo stores – now there’s about 500,’ said Mr Styles. ‘It’s a matter of someone getting out there and doing something positive in a difficult market, where we are now facing the new challenge of internet selling,’ he said.

‘We are very excited to be forming this strategic partnership with Wayne Styles and PhotoPlus,’ said Michael Carr, general manager, Leading Edge Digital.

‘PhotoPlus has been successful in the market for over 35 years, and we can now combine our buying, marketing, central billing and IT skills to grow our market and customer base together.’

PhotoEdge welcomes any calls from independent photographic retailers wishing to join this new group. For further details please contact Wayne Styles (03 9555 5102) or Michael Carr on (02 9407 4057).

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