Unicomer Group

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Unicomer Group
Private company
Industry Retail
Founded 2000
Headquarters San Salvador, El Salvador
Area served
Central America, Caribbean, United States, South America
Products Furniture, electronics, appliances, motorcycles, optical products and accessories
Number of employees
14,000 +
Website http://www.unicomergroup.com
Unicomer Group Headquarters - San Salvador, El Salvador
La Curaçao, Las Lomas, - Honduras
LaCuracao, Las Lomas - Honduras
La Curaçao - Guatemala
Courts Caribbean USA - Brooklyn, New York

Unicomer Group (Spanish: Grupo Unicomer), is an international retailing group based in El Salvador that operates several chains of retail brands in the consumer durables sector, specializing in furniture, appliances, and electronics.

Specializing in consumer finance programs, Unicomer Group also has reached different targets by opening Optical stores under their leading store chains Courts and La Curacao, Tropimotors selling motorcycles and accessories, and also upgraded their ecommerce platforms to reach central American and Caribbean families who are living away from their loved ones so they have a way to send them products from their stores in their homeland.

Unicomer Group operates over 850 stores in Central America, the Caribbean, South America, and the United States, and employs over 14,000 associates.

Recently the group acquired brand and intellectual property for RadioShack in Central America, South America and the Caribbean.

History of Unicomer Group[edit]

Unicomer Group was founded in the year 2000 and its operations comprise of well positioned specialty retail chains selling a large variety of products featuring worldwide recognized brands of large and small appliances, furniture, video and audio products, computers/tablets/smartphones, optical products, motorcycles and a variety of technological accessories. Its mission is to serve and meet the needs of its customers with a variety of products and services with more than 14,000 associates who offer their customers the broadest top of the line product selection with financing options. Focused on its customers, ‘‘‘Unicomer Group’’’ offers a variety of added value finance options that would be hard to obtain in traditional channels, for entrepreneurs looking to start their own businesses.

Unicomer Group´s store chains include La Curacao of Central America and the Dominican Republic, Almacenes Tropigas in all of Central America, Sony Center in Nicaragua, Artefacta and Baratodo in Ecuador, Gollo in Costa Rica, Courts as well as Lucky Dollar in the Caribbean, AMC Unicon, Hagemyer, Price Hacker and Home & Nature in Aruba, Unicomer in the United States and the RadioShack franchise in Central America, South America and the Caribbean. Thereby making it the store operator with the largest market share in 18 of the 20 countries where it operates.

As part of its core values, Unicomer works under the most stringent governance and ethical standards and has a Social Corporate Responsibility Program that strongly supports mainly education and sports in the most vulnerable sectors of the countries of operation.

Store Chains[edit]

Since its beginnings in September 2000, Unicomer Group has acquired various store chains in Central America, South America, the Caribbean and United States. Each store chain has a history within the market where it operates being at least within the top 3 brands in the country. Combined, Unicomer Group’s store chains have over 160 years of retail experience.

COURTS[edit]

Founded in 1850

Courts was established in 1850, with only one store in England. After 150 years of experience it holds a leading position around the world. To this date, Courts has a total of 113 stores located in the Caribbean, employing more than 3,000 people. Of these 113 stores, 37 are located in Jamaica, place where it started operations in the year 1959; 6 in Barbados, since 1965, 19 between the Windward and the Leeward islands since 1981; 27 in Trinidad and Tobago, since 1991; and 24 distributed among the other countries of that geographical region.

Unicomer Group acquired the Courts´ operations in the Caribbean in the year 2006, maintaining the leadership and excellent customer service that it has been known for.

In 2008, the first Courts store will open in Brooklyn, NY. To serve the Caribbean's living in this area, and furthermore in 2011, a second store was opened in Queens in the same US city.

LA CURACAO[edit]

"Central Americans identify the company by its logo and colors, besides the famous character “Facilito” (easily), born out of the imagination of an employee whose motto was “I sell it easily, you take it easily, you pay easily".

Founded in 1890

At the end of the XIX Century, La Curacao, was founded under the name of Curacao Commerce and Industry Partnership, in the island of Curacao and dedicated itself to port exploitation.

In 1911, it became Curacao Trading Company, CETECO, and sold household and agricultural products.

In 1945, La Curacao changed its commercial strategy from agricultural inputs to retailing household appliances. The first stores were known as Curacao Trading Company, and soon spread throughout the Central American region.

Upon its consolidation in the year 2000, operations were strengthened in countries like Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Dominican Republic. In the year 2004, it opened two stores under the name of UNICOMER (Union Comercial de Centro America) in Houston and Los Angeles, two of the major US cities with the highest number of Central Americans residing.

La Curacao expands its services on October 2005 introducing La Curacao Optics in Guatemala. On February 2006, it is introduced in El Salvador and furthermore in Nicaragua on October of the same year. La Curacao Optics' purpose is to offer its clients lenses and frames for eye and sunglasses with easy payment plans, as well as ocular medical consultations with specialists and advanced technology machinery.

As of 2014, the chain branched out to more than 200 stores. La Curacao reaches first place in commercial preference, due to the fact that it offers its customers additional benefits that facilitate the purchase, such as instant credit, free delivery, extended warranties, and maintenance service for all products bought in any of the company's stores.

SERVITOTAL[edit]

Founded in 1947

Servitotal emerged from the need to provide La Curacao's customers with technical assistance. In the year 2000, after the acquisition of CETECO Group, services were expanded to attend Almacenes Tropigas, Radio Shack, and individual customers. Currently, Servitotal has service centers in the countries where ‘‘‘Unicomer Group’’’ operates, covering the whole region, and provides maintenance and repair support to all the products commercialized by the group. Among additional services rendered we can name: personalized care through a call center and home visits.

Servitotal is the service center authorized for brands like Toshiba, Samsung, Whirlpool, Philips, Frigidaire, LG, Black & Decker, Tappan, Sony, and Apple, among others, becoming the largest and most specialized Service Center within the Central American region and the Dominican Republic.

Servitotal has a highly qualified staff as a result of the training projects carried out by the company, among which we can mention:

  • The Apple Technician Certificate Program, entitles Servitotal to state that the Service Center has been authorized by the renowned APPLE Company. Servitotal was awarded the title once again when one of its technicians renewed the Certification as an APPLE technician on January 25, 2008 with a passing grade of 100%.
  • Another Project is the SONY Technician Certificate Program, which the company was awarded for the first time in 2006, then in 2007 and once again in 2008. The sole purpose of this Project is to insure that the company continues improving its repair diagnostics, shorten response times and ultimately achieve greater customer satisfaction. At the onset of the program in 2006, the first course was the pre-basic level taken by a group of 42 technicians enrolled by Servitotal, who without exception passed the course, and six of them were on the list of the top ten with the highest grades.
* The third project of the SONY Technician Certificate Program seeks to have 20 certified SONY technicians, additionally specializing 12 in audio, 9 in TV, and 2 in VAIO.

ALMACENES TROPIGAS[edit]

“As an innovation characteristic on 2006, Almacenes Tropigas introduces its new mascot “TROPIKONG”. A charismatic, sympathetic, and strong gorilla that is constantly giving customers benefits such as: low prices, hassle free credits, no down payments, and up to 36 months to pay.”

Founded in 1955

Founded by Tropigas Gas Company as Almacenes Tropigas, which began distributing liquefied gas. Realizing the great demand for appliances, the company decides to begin to commercialize these types of goods.

In 1988, Shell International acquired Tropigas and kept it until December 1992, when it sold the household appliances business to the CETECO Dutch group, thus separating it from the liquefied gas company.

Almacenes Tropigas carried out a daring strategy that allowed them to cover a larger share of the market, backed up by La Curacao, positioning itself as second in the electric appliance market.

In October 1996, the original format of Almacenes Tropigas was changed towards the warehouse concept, to appeal to a more popular segment. Since then Almacenes Tropigas started offering competitive prices, easy credit, small installment, and fortnight repayment plans.

In the year 2000, Unicomer Group bought the CETECO group. At that time Almacenes Tropigas had reached a significant penetration in the Central American region, and as part of the new group it continued with its aggressive expansion plan and creating new employment opportunities.

During the early months of 2001, Almacenes Tropigas implemented the door-to-door sales system, starting its operations in El Salvador and rolling out this modality to the rest of the Central American countries in October of the same year.

In 2007, Almacenes Tropigas started operations in Belize. As of 2015, it reaches more than 130stores distributed through El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Belize.

AMC UNICON[edit]

Founded in 1955

Unicon had its beginnings in 1955 and today is the most important retailer in Aruba selling and servicing household appliances, furniture and electronics. The three namesake AMC Unicon stores trace their origin to the Ceteco group of companies from which Unicomer Group acquired the La Curacao and Almacenes Tropigas chains in Central America in 2000. AMC Unicon’s offerings of appliances and electronics are complemented by Home & Nature’s home furnishings, the Hagemyer store with its main focus in furniture and major appliances, and Price Hacker’s large variety of promotional good value offerings.

GOLLO[edit]

“As part of a differentiation strategy, the store chain comes up with GOLLO, a refreshing, young, and charismatic rooster whose success brings the chain to name its stores after him”.

Founded in 1974

Founded in 1974 by entrepreneur Servio Flores Cacho in the city of Alajuela, Costa Rica working with only four employees at the time. The company expanded into other segments with potential populations, based on an aggressive market, easy payment plans and financial consolidation giving way to constant growth. In 1980 six branches were established, and by 1999, 31 branches operated in Costa Rica.

In the year 2000 the brand image changed with the idea of a new mascot; younger and refreshed. That's how the current store character 'Gollo' was created. By 2004, GOLLO becomes the store chain´s commercial name and key graphic in advertising. In 2005 a new slogan is launched, "Solo Bueno", which remains to date.

Today the store chain is comprised with more than 120 stores, 700 thousand square feet of sales area, more than 400 thousand customers and 1,600 employees. Service, friendship, and commitment are the values that have made Gollo leader in retailing technology, furniture and home appliances in the Costa Rican market. Values which make Gollo the perfect fit when joining Unicomer Group on September 2012.

ARTEFACTA[edit]

Founded in 1989

Founded with Peruvian investments that allowed the company to enter the market as an electrical goods assembly plant under the name ELTESA, it managed to create the company's first products: a stereo and a 14-inch TV of Daiwa brand; nevertheless the same year the company decided to change its business strategy to focus on appliance retailing, in doing so the company opened two stores in Ecuador, one in Quito and one in Guayaquil. Following this, the company decided to change its name to a more commercial one, and this is how Artefacta was born, Ecuadorian appliances for the home.

Five years later, the company already carried the leading national and imported brands. With the vision of delivering a better customer service, in 1996 they began marketing "Extended Warranty", always envisioning the continuing innovation of products and services delivered to the customer.

In 2002, Artefacta decided to extend its product line to Motorcycles and cellular phones, making it one of the first chains that opened a different sales channel for these products. Two years later in 2004 continuing the forefront of technology the company began selling desktops and laptops, and is today one of the fastest growing lines of the company.

Artefacta decided to change its advertising concept to a friendlier and more innovative strategy in 2008, adopting the image "Family of appliances”. Incorporated into all the advertising of the company, it improved their identification levels, top of mind and advertising campaign results.

In 2009, Artefacta was the first store in Ecuador to venture into the mass sale of insurance, offering its customers a package of covers life, accident and unemployment insurance in order to improve customer service.

At the end of 2011, Artefacta with its 98 stores joins the Unicomer Group family with a second place in Ecuador's top of mind.

RADIO SHACK[edit]

Year of franchise purchase 1998

The shareholders of UNICOMER GROUP initially acquired a RadioShack franchise in El Salvador in January 1998. The brand´s expansion outside the Salvadoran territory began in Honduras in the year 2002. Operations in Guatemala began a year later, and in Nicaragua in May 2005. By January 2015, UNICOMER GROUP owned 57 RadioShack stores distributed throughout the Central American region, making it one of the largest independent owners of RadioShack stores in the world.

RadioShack was conceived to be a North American store type. It sells electronic components and accessories, security devices, radio communication equipment, telephones, calculators, computers, car accessories, audio and video, and every state of the art technological gadget.

For more than 17 years, Unicomer Group has been a successful franchise operator for RadioShack. Through these years the brand gained a strong position in the region and has created thousands of new job positions that have served hundreds of thousands of Central American families that rely on its brand value and deferred payment facilities offered by the Group.

Unicomer Group has been granted awards for achieving and surpassing guidelines established by the franchisor, such as: Diamond Excellence Award, Platinum Plus Award, Best RadioShack Store Growth Award, and Best Advertising Program.

On April 15, 2015, Unicomer Group acquired brands, intellectual property and contracts of existing RadioShack franchisees throughout Central America, South America and the Caribbean. In the new territories, RadioShack is present in 198 franchises that now become the perfect addition to the group. This will allow Unicomer Group to consolidate and promote the brand with the current franchisees, and will also give us the opportunity to consolidate our expansion strategy in countries where it currently is not present.

UNICOMER United States[edit]

Founded in 2004

UNICOMER began operations in the United States in 2004 opening two stores in Houston, in order to serve the Central Americans living in the US, who wish to send gifts to family members in their countries of origin.

Its expansion in the US continued, and in 2006, when it opened two more stores in Los Angeles it reached a total of four, under a “showroom” concept.

Through UNICOMER, Central Americans have access to a simple commercial mechanism: the customer visits the store where products are exhibited, chooses the item or items he or she would like to send, and UNICOMER delivers to their family members through its stores or warehouses located throughout the Central American region.

UNICOMER, like its sister chains in Unicomer Group, offers attractive credit plans to its customers, thus facilitating the payment of the purchased items while family members benefit from them.

In 2007, UNICOMER started formal sales of its products locally due to the high demand of its current customers. All these trade strategies allowed UNICOMER to gain the position as an ethnic and nostalgic brand in the US market, therefore, allowing Central Americans to feel closer to home and their families.

LOCO LUIS[edit]

Founded in 1973

Loco Luis was born with the idea of offering customers an alternative of low price purchase. The store specializes in selling used articles in good condition and/or articles with slight defects that have been refurbished to a state of high performance. The store was named after the manager of that time called Luis, who distinguished himself for the dynamism, energy and enthusiasm he transmitted to others.

This store was acquired from Grupo CETECO in the year 2000, and to this date it has five stores in Central America that offer customers low prices.

LUCKY DOLLAR[edit]

Founded in 2007

Founded in the Caribbean under the ‘‘‘Unicomer Group’’’ umbrella; as an option for the popular segment of the region, beginning operations in Jamaica and Trinidad.

Lucky Dollar is the youngest chain in the group and follows the same concept as Almacenes Tropigas of Central America, in that it offers competitive prices, small installments, easy credit and every two-week payments for appliances and furniture.

“As an example of synergy between regions, Lucky the dog is created with the successful example of Tropikong of Almacenes Tropigas. This charismatic dog gives Lucky Dollar a new personality, and becoming attractive to children and adults.“

BARATODO[edit]

Founded in 2012

Baratodo, was born with the objective of increasing market share, by creating a new competitor. One of its characteristics is to have sales areas over 3,000 square feet, allowing us to introduce new product lines, such as furniture, where the group has extensive experience in other countries, and in Ecuador becomes a great market opportunity.

Among his main skills is active selling or sales routing, initiative that was abandoned by competitors in the market, and has become an important differentiator in the market. Paired with a policy of employee benefits, it becomes a great strength.

Opening the first store in Guayaquil, it fulfilled the industry approach to reach lower middle and popular segments, and is now perceived as an easy access, approachable chain with a wide variety of modern products. "Easy to buy and cheap to pay" Future openings will be in the cities of Portoviejo, Manta, Esmeraldas, and Machala before April 2013, reaching 12 sales points through 2013 to achieve a turnover of U.S. $ 10MM.

SONY CENTER[edit]

Year of Franchise Purchase: 2012

The Sony Center franchise officially opened on February 8, 2012 in Managua, Nicaragua as part of ‘‘‘Unicomer Group’’’ . Sony Center allows visitors to interact with different SONY quality products and provides spaces specifically designed to enhance their characteristics.

It is a concept store offering consumers the latest in innovation and technology from SONY and is part of a chain of stores worldwide, designed to exclusively offer the full line of electronic products.

SONY products are always in constant innovation, determined to make their customers live a unique experience. It is with this insight that the idea of a specialty store is born, to provide a space specifically to fulfill the dreams of our customers.

Corporate Social Responsibility[edit]

Corporate Social Responsibility is essential in ‘‘‘Unicomer Group’’’ ; it is the company´s commitment to the sustainable development of the communities served by the Group.

For more than 12 years ‘‘‘Unicomer Group’’’ , through various programs, both internal and external, has benefited thousands of children, youth and adults to meet its commitment to contribute to sustainable development in the countries where it operates. The company has implemented different practices and projects that are expected to gain strength in the future, and is aware that the Social Responsibility strategy will change depending on the demand for different audiences.

Its commitment is to improve the quality of life of the families in the communities in which the company operates through programs that target social, economic and environmental development.

Their priorities include:

  • Promote the welfare and development of our employees
  • Benefit the communities we serve through education, health and community development
  • Promote the reuse of recyclable materials and the care of the Environment

Education[edit]

Unicomer Group contributes to education as the basis for development of the countries in which it operates through several programs:

  • Bright Future: Extracurricular Clubs Program implemented in partnership with Glasswing in order to:
  • Contribute to the diversification and quality of education.
  • Extend hours of daily student learning.
  • Creating and maintaining a positive school environment.
  • Promote the direct action of committed volunteers.
  • Support the Ministry of Education in achieving its strategic objectives.

Each school has a robotics club, tutoring through the use of tablets, science and leadership. All clubs are based on volunteer trainers from within the company or their relatives and friends who volunteer their time for the benefit of young people.

  • Donation of desks, appliances and / or restoration of schools with active participation of its employees as volunteers aiming to improve the infrastructure of schools that lack the necessary adjustments for learning.
  • School equipment donations with computer centers to help close the technology gap in young people who have no access to technologies.
  • Delivery of solar lamps for children who are studying but don’t have electricity at home to help improve academic performance and prevent health problems derived from kerosene lamps.
  • Granting of school and university scholarships to underprivileged youth with high performance and support for various programs that improve the quality of education both academically and morally.

Community Development[edit]

In order to promote a healthy coexistence, Unicomer Group has made significant donations for the construction and / or improvement of orphanages, rehabilitation centers, homes and poor rural communities.

It has also made important contributions for the purchase of medicine or machinery needed to care for patients with serious diseases and have no funds.

In the case of natural disasters the Group has donated food and mattresses and has supported institutions like the Red Cross and Salvation Army in their efforts to provide relief to victims of natural disasters.

The company actively promotes the participation of its employees in various volunteer activities in order to promote solidarity and commitment with the communities.

Investments in Infrastructure[edit]

Mustard Seed Communities, Jamaica[edit]

Improvements in infrastructure of low income urban communities & health treatment for young adults and babies afflicted with HIV / AIDS.

Hogar de Huérfanos Zacarías Guerra, Nicargua[edit]

Construction of a building where homeless children are provided with housing, nutrition, integral education, clothing and medical assistance among others.

Hogares Crea, El Salvador[edit]

Construction of a rehabilitation center where young adults receive integral treatment that enables them to overcome addiction and reintegrate into society.

  • Shared Smiles

A program that was created in 2012 with the aim to include our suppliers to work with communities. Organizations working for the welfare of the people who are most vulnerable are identified, and donations of furniture or appliances are made to ensure a better quality of life for beneficiaries. ‘‘‘Unicomer Group’’’ has worked with various children's homes and organizations such as SOS Villages and TECHO.

  • Biggest hearts

Unicomer Group's works repeatedly with Telethon for the rehabilitation of people with disabilities, and with different organizations working with children with cancer, HIV and Down syndrome.

Environment[edit]

In order to encourage the reutilization of recyclable materials and the importance of caring for the environment ‘‘‘Unicomer Group’’’ has developed awareness campaigns; carried out reforestation and recycling activities. Also offering a wide range of eco friendly products in its stores.

References[edit]

External links[edit]