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NAVD a Productive Event

14 Apr, 2005 By: Jessica Wolf

It's a small group, but the annual gathering of the National Association of Video Distributors (NAVD) held this week in Santa Monica, Calif., was overall a satisfied one, attendees said.

“We had more studios here than we've had in the last three or four years,” said NAVD executive director Bill Burton.

Bob Webb, VP of purchasing and operations for Ingram Entertainment and president of NAVD, said the shelf-space crunch at the major chains seems to have piqued suppliers' attention to distribution. They're looking for access to more varied retail accounts, especially for catalog product, he said.

Ingram Entertainment, which attends the conference every year, made a priority this year to sound out studios about HD-DVD and Blu-ray Disc, said Bill Bryant, VP of sales for Ingram. No one wants a format war, least of all retailers, he said, adding that he got the same feeling from his meetings with suppliers.

“We got the distinct impression that there is a great sense of cooperation [between the studios] to arrive at one format,” he said. “You couldn't say that three months ago.”

Ingram, new NAVD member Alliance Entertainment as well as Baker & Taylor, Flash Distributors, ROW Entertainment and Waxworks were NAVD members in attendance. Fourteen suppliers held meetings at this year's conference, including representatives from most of the major studios along with independent suppliers such as First Look Media and Goldhil Home Media.

Ventura Entertainment, as a supplier of a broad swath of genres, attended the NAVD conference for the first time this year.

Of course, distributors' usual concerns over pricing, product flow and promotions came up, said Rob Gold, VP of product management for Ventura. But, he added, suppliers and distributors are interested in taking a broader view of product these days.

“Meeting face-to-face with distributors allowed us to kick around creative ways we can work together, perhaps going off the normal menu of marketing opportunities,” Gold said. “We would like to do more than advertise in a mailer.”

Adam Varon, VP of sales for Ventura Entertainment, said there is a tremendous opportunity to partner with distributors to get niche product in a wide variety of retail locations.

Canadian wholesaler, ROW Entertainment, attended the conference for the first time this year. Last year, the company purchased Canadian distributor and NAVD member Video One.

The conference was productive, said ROW CFO Chris Jamieson. ROW not only distributes product to retail chains across Canada but also runs the CD Plus chain. These stores, located in rural areas across the country, were traditionally music stores, but over the past few years have grown to be about 30 percent DVD, Jamieson said. So the company's interest in meeting with video suppliers is even greater now.

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