MERGER ADDS SPARK TO ENDURING RETAILERS

TWO of the city's oldest home appliance stores have joined forces to form the Gold Coast's largest independent electrical store.

L&M has merged with Gold Star Electrics to deliver a full-service showroom and warehouse at Mermaid Beach that boasts a retail section as well as builder, hospitality, rental and air-conditioning departments.

The store, which is to be known as L&M Gold Star, employs 15 permanent staff and services customers on the Gold Coast, Brisbane and Sunshine Coast.

Businesswoman Trina Hockley (pictured below), who heads up the store, says it is the rich history dating back to 1963 and the combined experience of the two businesses that will see it survive and prosper against the likes of giants such as Harvey Norman.

"We are built on service, and although you might get a bigger range at a Harvey Norman, you won't get the quality of service that we provide," says Hockley.

"Our store gives people who are discerning with their tastes a different option. Our average client stays for one to two hours because we offer the full service. It is not just 'buy off the shelf'; we even go into the homes after the purchase to make sure they can use the appliances correctly."

Hockley says the business has survived while others have failed because it has found its niche.

"We are the only independent electrical retailer on the Gold Coast - there were 22 about 15 years ago but we are the last one standing," says Hockley.

"To stay in business you have to evolve and change with what is happening in the industry - we were predominantly a TV company many years ago but we had to change with the times and now we are in kitchens.

"You have to diversify, you can't just have a retail shop and expect to survive."    

L&M Gold Star will stock high-end European kitchen appliances with brands including Smeg, Electrolux, AEG, V-Zug, Asko, Liebherr and Bertazzoni.

It will also provide working displays and will have chefs deliver demonstrations with the appliances.

Hockley is the current chair of the AICD Gold Coast and in 2000 was the youngest person to be appointed to the Retravision board.

L&M Electrics was started by Hockley's uncle Neil Petch and was later sold to Hockley's father, former Gold Coast city councillor and chairman of Gold Coast Tourism, Peter Hughes.

Gold Star Electrics also has a long family history with the business started in 1969 by the late John and Clare Starkey.

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