Vendors and distributors look forward to 'healthy' competition on the High Street, rumours of possible DSGi acquisition continue

UK tech industry embraces Best Buy launch

As the first UK Best Buy store nears the end of its first week of trading, vendors and distributors have come
out in support of the US retailer’s arrival, celebrating the boost to competition and choice it is expected to bring to the nation’s technology market.

The Thurrock megastore – which measures 50 thousand square feet – officially opened doors on April 30th, after management pulled the launch date forward at the last minute.

The mammoth site is the spearhead of the firm’s first year strategy in the UK, paving the way for a further five megastores in Southampton, Merry Hill in the West Midlands, Aintree near Liverpool, Croydon and Bristol in the coming months.

“In the local area, whenever I go out wearing a Best Buy shirt, people always ask me when it’s going to open,” René Wright, head of computing for Best Buy UK, told PCR. “There was a lot of speculation and rumours about when we were going to launch and for us this is the absolute optimum time.”

Chris Connell, sales director at VIP Computers, commented: “VIP always welcomes a new player to the industry and the fact that Best Buy is a big US outfit will enable a strong credit line for distributors to work with. Assuming the trading terms are beneficial to both parties, I’m sure we will see some strong and healthy relationships develop.”

Jon Atherton, commercial group vice president at EntaTech, added: “On the whole, I think this is a good thing –competition is always good for the consumer and opens up new doors for the channel.”

Big name vendors have highlighted Best Buy’s high investment in staff training and focus on customer experience as key in the initial drive to attract UK consumers away from the likes of PC World, Currys and Comet.

“The emphasis on the in-store experience means the customer is genuinely assisted in finding the correct product that really enables them to use the latest and greatest technology,” said Richard Lamond, sales manager for Northern Europe at Nvidia.

“For the industry,” he continued, “Best Buy’s entry shows just how crucial the UK market is to global retailers. Its background in the US marketplace should enable it to hit the ground running with excellent customer service and sales support.”

“In the US, Best Buy is well known for its knowledgeable staff and deep understanding of technology, helping match the product to the consumer,” added Mikael Zeitlin, senior channel marketing specialist at AMD. “This
goes hand-in-hand with our vision philosophy, to demystify technology to help the consumer buy a PC or notebook based on their needs, not simply based on their budget.”

Meanwhile, speculation that Best Buy may make a swoop for the currently dominant DSGi continues to be a subject of speculation amongst trade figures.

“DSGi will be feeling the pressure now from the rhetoric that Best Buy is giving out and even more so when Best Buy’s doors open and there are prices it has to beat,” said Mark Reed, MD of Realtime Distribution. “With regards to the rumours that Best Buy may acquire DSGi, I feel it is very unlikely and part of me hopes this is right… However, given the current share price of DSGi and cash position of Best Buy it would be easy to see this being possible.”

To read our full interview with Best Buy’s René Wright, click here.

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