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Mega launches stimulus plan

 1 April 2020     Michael J. Knell 

SASKATOON – Mega Group has pledged that not one of its members will go out of business or be rendered insolvent as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The member-owned buying and marketing group has launched the first of the four-stage Mega Stimulus Plan.

“Mega Group’s mission during this war against C-19 {sic} is clear: Mega will leave no one behind, no member will go out of business or be rendered insolvent,” president and chief executive officer Kim Yost said in a video presentation to members released late last week.

Yost made the presentation from his home in Montreal while in 14 days of self-isolation after returning from Mega’s annual general meeting and convention that was held in Las Vegas earlier in the month. Throughout his chat, he referred to COVID-19 as C-19.

The Mega Stimulus Plan will have four phases: 1) survive; 2) recover; 3) sustain; and, 4) grow. “The recovery phase will begin when all our member stores have re-opened for business and more will be communicated as things evolve,” Yost said.

Mega Group’s executive team has launched the Mega Stimulus Plan, designed to help members get through the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Seen here at the group’s recent annual general meeting are (from left to right): Kim Yost, Kevin Leier, Michael Vancura and Luc-André Cormier.Currently, Mega has approximately 180 shareholders, about 140 of whom operate under the BrandSource Canada banner. It also has a large group of members who operate outside the banner, such as Bennett’s Furniture & Mattresses – a three-unit independent retailer based in Peterborough, Ontario – and Trail Appliances, the white goods specialist with stores in Alberta and British Columbia.

In most regions of the country, Mega Group member stores remain closed as part of strategy to fight the spread of the virus, which at press time had taken more than 100 lives from coast-to-coast.

“This is a crisis,” Yost told his members. “Most of you are facing gut wrenching decisions. We are going to be here to help every member through this crisis. No member is going to be left behind.”

Mega’s senior management team will be hosting weekly webinars – currently scheduled for Friday’s at 12noon Eastern time – to update members on what actions the group is taking to support the individual members over the coming weeks.

Kevin Leier, chief financial officer, said the group is working with suppliers to provide at least some relief to members’ accounts and urged members to seek advice when needed about effectively managing their finances over the coming weeks.

He also urged them to scour expenses for items that can be deferred and research the new financing programs being made available to Canadian businesses by the Business Development Bank (BDC).

Michael Vancura, executive vice president of merchandising, told members negotiations are underway to obtain extended terms on new orders. He also noted appliance producers are still shipping and that while the production has consolidated in many cases, mattress manufacturers also continue to ship. However, many furniture manufacturers across the country were closed as of press time.

He also assured members his team is working with vendors to map out what the recovery will look like when it comes as it won’t be business as usual, at least at the beginning of the recovery.

Luc-André Cormier, executive vice president of marketing and digital business, noted the latest data shows traffic to member web sites appears to have stabilised during the crisis and urged them to transition to an e-commerce enabled site if they haven’t already done so.

He also suggested they spend time and effort on platforms they own – such as their web site, e-mail list, e-flyers and social media accounts. “If you are open for business in-store or online, make sure your web site showcases on-going promotions,” he advised.

Retailers should also help preserve their cash flow by scaling back on the advertising spend for media such as newspapers, television and radio. He also said paid search ads should be the last channel to cut as the retailer only pays when the browser to interested enough to click on his ad.

“Manage your image by adapting the tone of your message,” Cormier suggested. “Be less aggressive and show care and empathy. Retailers should spend time populating their social media pages with reassuring and authentic reactions to the situation.” 

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This HGO article was written by:
Michael J. Knell
Michael J. Knell

Michael is the publisher and editor of Home Goods Online. A seasoned business journalist, he has researched and written about the furniture, mattress and major appliance industries in both Canada and the United States for the past three decades.

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