Industry News 6/21/2007

Retail Buying Group SSL Adds Members, Goes Green, and Expands Membership Benefits

Retail Buying Group SSL Adds Members, Goes Green, and Expands Membership Benefits

Victor, NY – June 21, 2007 – Sports Specialists Limited (SSL), a leading retailer-owned specialty buying group for the snow sports, action sports, bike, outdoor and casual outdoor furniture industries, reported a resoundingly successful Board of Directors meeting this June.  The Board approved new stockholders, record rebates, exciting and important initiatives, and ever increasing best practices. 

NEW STOCKHOLDERS
The Board voted in four new official stockholders, increasing the collective bargaining clout to $300 million, 150+ storefronts and 55 unique retailers across North America.  The following retailers are the newest additions to the SSL family:

  • Geiger’s Ski & Sport Haus from Chagrin, OH, owned by Gordon & Susan Geiger.
  • Vertical Drop Ski & Patio from St. Charles, IL, owned by Tony Kampling.
  • Ski Liberty, Ski Roundtop, and Whitetail Ski Resorts in PA owned by Snow Time Resorts.
  • Sporthaus from Yakima, WA, owned by Sig Fossum.

RECORD REBATES
This year the SSL retailers all received record-sized rebates due to a winning combination of skillful management direction, strong supplier collaboration and substantial retailer support. 

SSL GOES GREEN!
As the era of social consciousness is rapidly unfolding, SSL has unveiled its Environmental Impact Reduction Strategy.  As an organization whose very existence is dependent on the good fortune of Mother Nature, SSL has unrolled a comprehensive plan to drastically cut paper consumption, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and streamline more efficient processes for doing business.

The SSL Environmental Impact Reduction Strategy initiatives include:

  • Taking immediate steps to reduce corporate office energy consumption
  • Offsetting annual carbon emissions through a partnership with CarbonFund.org
  • Counterbalancing corporate energy usage, air and ground transportation emissions through the purchase of Renewable Energy Credits
  • Implementing new Canon imageWARE software to facilitate e-invoicing, reducing office paper consumption by more than 75% or nearly 1,500 lbs of paper per year
  • Shifting to recycled and/or FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified paper for all remaining paper needs
  • Utilizing secure wireless network technologies to distribute all necessary forms instead of paper workbooks during Winter Sports Market, saving 38,000 sheets of paper annually.

“Through these efforts, SSL can make a serious and meaningful reduction in our environmental impact,” said Steve Rogers, President and CEO of SSL.  “While these initiatives also help us serve our retailers and suppliers with greater accuracy and speed, we hope our industry as a whole will be encouraged to assess and reduce their own organizations’ impact, doing their part to help the environment we all depend on.”

SSL TAKES ON THE BIKE INDUSTRY
In 2006 there were 4,600 specialty bike retailers representing 49% of the $5.8 billion (and growing) US bike industry. Approximately 14% of those stores already carry winter sports merchandise. 

The Board supported the proposed strategy for SSL to officially break into the bike industry: a three-year plan to develop bike-specific programs, attract new retailers and add to the year-round buying power of SSL.

“This is an excellent and obvious growth strategy for SSL because the bike industry shares many of the same manufacturers and retailers that are already part of the group” said Alan Davis of Princeton Sports in MD. “By expanding our reach into the bike industry we achieve better financial balance, stability and growth during the non-snow seasons, as already evidenced by the increased profitability of our casual outdoor furniture retailers.”

SSL JOINS “THE BUYING GROUP”
Clearly understanding the benefits of maximizing purchasing power, SSL has negotiated a master membership with The Buying Group.com, securing purchasing advantages and savings for all SSL retailers for everyday operational goods and services.

“The Buying Group savings are most advantageous for small to mid-sized independent businesses,” stated Mark Schiavone, President of The Buying Group, “which is why we feel the SSL retailers are a great fit, plus they are already very familiar with purchasing power and economies of scale.”

With a simple user name and password, SSL retailers can achieve 15%-60% savings from suppliers for shipping, freight, health insurance, payroll, human resources, computers, travel, credit card processing, phone/data services, printing and website services, and many more.

“The biggest key to the savings is usage – I encourage everyone to explore and compare,” explained Schiavone. “Cutting operating costs is not as sexy as closing a large sale but the net impact on the bottom line is the same, if not better in the long term.”

SSL SUPPORTS…
The Board of Directors also approved:

  • Continuing membership to the National Ski and Snowboard Retailers Association (NSSRA)
  • Continuing support of the International Skiing History Association (skiinghistory.org)
  • Endorsing the SIA Model for Success, with all the Board members scheduled to attend their presentation in Salt Lake City on October 3, 2007.

ABOUT SPORTS SPECIALISTS LTD (SSL) ::
Established in 1971, Sports Specialists Ltd (SSL) is a retailer-owned specialty buying group for the snow sports, action sports, bike, outdoor, and casual outdoor furniture industries. Utilizing the collective bargaining clout of $300 million, 150+ storefronts and 55 unique retailers across North America, SSL provides Dynamic Market Solutions that deliver competitive advantages in buying, merchandising and marketing.  For more information, please visit
www.sportsspecialistsltd.com.