SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- Hurricane season represents a unique selling opportunity for Pueblo International here, operator of 40 stores in Puerto Rico and five in the Virgin Islands.
When a hurricane is coming, customer demand for batteries is voracious, said Bill Mansfield, vice president GM/HBC. "The battery category is very dynamic in Puerto Rico. It's driven by the influence of hurricanes, but also daily use of the product."
The retailer adopted a three-brand strategy last year with Energizer, Duracell and Top Crest as a private label, he said. This has enabled the retailer to become more price competitive, and a new fixture from Duracell has helped highlight the category for the customers, Mansfield said.
There are two parts to the hurricane business, he noted: before and after. "Number one is the preparation for the hurricane, and that means having enough batteries both in the stores and the warehouse, and then having access to additional inventories. Depending upon the track of the hurricane and how much advance notice the community has, they are going to buy pretty much every battery on the island before the hurricane," Mansfield said.
After the hurricane, demand for batteries continues. "Everything shuts down for a day, the hurricane goes away, and that is when the real opportunity starts. You can really win as a retailer if you have the ability to bring that inventory from your warehouse and from other locales into the stores in the quickest time," he said. As a result of doing this, Pueblo increased market share last year, he noted.
For this year, "they predict one of the worst hurricane seasons in recent history. That's scary from a personal viewpoint, but from business experience, that says we need to be better prepared this year than any year in the past. We've taken steps already. We have a plan developed and we have purchased additional inventory to maintain an in-stock status," Mansfield said.