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JB Hi Fi To Open Concept Stores

By Oonagh Reidy | Wednesday | 06/04/2011

Its goodbye games and hello TVs as JB pulls a new trick out of the retail hat.

The first store of its kind will be unveiled, starting with Sydney's new Westfield centre on April 21st next and will feature TVs, computers but devoid of games or DVDs.

And the concept outlets could also be unleashed nationally, Macquarie analysts believe.

However, this new style of retailing won't roll on to its mainstream stores although they may show the way to how stores will be structured in the future, CEO Terry Smart said.

 "You will get clues through that of what will make up the future JB Hi Fi stores, even though they'll continue to have the music, movies and games content."

But what is the exact concept? It will be a completely devoted to home entertainment and will stock brands like Sony, Apple and Hewlett Packard, according to The Australian.

The retailing giant has already been collaborating with major brands and fine tuning product displays. The stores will be product rather than price driven, believes one analyst.

And it seems concept stores are all the rage. Sony has already opened its own concept store in Westfield in the US, that delivers what it says is "a complete Sony experience." It has also said they intend to roll out worldwide.

So, why the change of tack for JB's?

In an exclusive interview with Channel News earlier this week, Chairman Patrick Elliott said JB Hi-Fi's online business was growing, but admitted that its "bricks and mortar" model was "very low-cost".

"Our cost of doing business, which is everything below the gross margin line, is about 14, 14.5 per cent of sales," Elliott said.

"There wouldn't be too many online retailers who have that low cost base, and so we're comfortable that with our scale, our buying power and our low cost to business that we can compete quite effectively with an online retailer, and to that extent clearly pushing our own online model."

"It will give us a chance to test what really works. But it's one we don't see a big opportunity to roll out into too many locations" Smart also said. 

The giant already said this year it planned to open 23 new stores both in Australia and New Zealand, and it is not clear as to whether any of these will be 'concept' locations.

And it's not just bricks and mortar that has been keeping Terry Smart's outfit busy. It is also looking at the possibility of  JB Hi Fi online appliance group as well as rebranding some of its Clive Anthony stores.

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