Is Sony Planning A Flagship Store In OZ?

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Sony Australia who has already registered 19 retail shop names in Australia and a Sony Shop name, is refusing comment on rumour that they are planning to open a flagship Sony store in Australia to compete with Apple.

Sony Australia who has already registered 19 retail shop names in Australia and a Sony Shop name, is refusing comment on rumour that they are planning to open a flagship Sony store in Australia to compete with Apple.

Overseas Sony is pushing ahead with the opening of corporate run stores, with new stores being opened in Japan and the USA in an effort to showcase their brand which is under pressure from Apple, Google, Panasonic and Samsung.

Sony marketing president Shin Kurita said recently that Sony was looking to open several stores “around the world” as it helped build brand awareness for Sony.

At the weekend Sony opened a new two-storey Sony Store in Nagoya in Japan,  which showcased most of Sony’s home line up.

The new store  includes a designer (though not glass like the Apple store in Sydney) staircase and a Genius service bar, nicknamed backStage, for getting technical support and training. The first is dedicated to  mobile devices including notebooks, cameras and portable music players, all of which are shown working together. The second floor focuses on 3D TVs, home theatres and Sony Hi Fi gear.

Each floor has what Sony calls “Stylists” who help “with their purchases”.

Last year ChannelNews revealed that Sony has registered 19 Sony Central names as well as a registration for The Sony Shop Pty Ltd, with the Australian Securities and Investment Commission.

At this year’s CES Show in Las Vegas senior executives of Sony told ChannelNews that Sony was set to expand their “own” retail stores around the world. “we are a global brand and like Apple we believe that Sony owned stores are good for us as it allows us to develop the brand and showcase Sony products” a senior Marketing executive said.

 

A leading retail analyst told ChannelNews last year that Sony is deliberately investing in Sony Central branded stores in partnership with the likes of Bing Lee and Video Pro in Queensland in an effort to “circumvent” the margin demands of mass retailers like Harvey Norman and JB Hi Fi.

The Citigroup analyst said “I don’t think it is surprising that Sony want to have their own branded stores. They get back a significantly higher return by selling through a Sony branded store than selling through a mass retailer”.

Sony executives at the opening said other flagship Sony Stores were planned for “Japan and other markets” but didn’t get a launch schedule in the wake of the Nagoya opening.

Shin Kurita said that, while the company’s internal sales goals are private, he expects flagships to help bring more sales to Sony overall both through the actual flagship and through brand awareness.


Click to enlarge
Sony Centre store in Sydney run in partnership with Bing Lee

In Australia Sony is struggling with market share falling in several categories including TV, Blu ray and digital cameras. In the games market Sony has seen a lift in sales of the PS 3 however their recent launch of their PSP Go handheld has been a “disaster” according to retail sources.

Last year the CEO of leading CE retailer JB Hi-Fi Richard Uechtritz said that as Sony’s biggest customer, he is not happy with the spread of Sony Central Stores into new suburbs such as Drummoyne in NSW and Robina on the Gold Coast.

“Overall we don’t support their store opening strategy. It is not like an Apple store where Apple is a brand that owns a category. Sony is not in the same league as Apple and they definitely don’t own any categories. We are their biggest customer across music, gaming, display and several other areas.” Said Uechtritz.

He added “At an Apple store they are not like a Sony Central store, desperate to close a deal or aggressively sell you a deal. They tend to educate a consumer on Apple products and often refer customers to JB Hi Fi. If Sony intends to open 19 stores this a real threat and we will take it up with them as we don’t like the idea of vendors opening their own branded retail entities. Overall, we don’t support the move and suspect it could become an issue”.

“In today’s marketplace consumers want retail choice. A Sony Central store does not deliver retail choice. Two or three stores in the past of not been a problem and I suspect that these stores are not kicking many goals when it comes to sales”. He said.

Sony was not available to comment about their retail strategy in Australia.

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