Would Dixons be where it is today without its former competitors?
I ask because the retailer has made massive strides in recent years. It delivered net profit for the first time in five years during 2012/13, recently adopted online innovations such as software downloads, offloaded its loss-making businesses Pixmania and ElectroWorld, and posted an increase in sales during its most recent financial quarter.
Most impressively, Dixons Retail has started refitting its Currys and PC World shops across the UK, in a bid to make them more attractive to women and tech-savvy youngsters. This isn’t your simple shift in store layout – it’s a fully-fledged makeover, with some £500,000 being invested into each shop’s redesign.
I’m not dismissing Dixons’ astounding turnaround by any means, but I can’t help wondering what it owes to its old rivals. Dixons’ own CEO admitted to PCR the company “wasn’t very good” four years back and that actually, he owes competitors “a lot” (read more from Sebastian James in our Dixons interview).
Before its UK operations shut down, whenever Best Buy opened a new store, Dixons would open a “bigger, better one next door”. After Comet closed earlier this year, Dixons grabbed an additional 30 per cent of the market – and acquired some stores and staff to boot.
Dixons is spending big on its ‘stores of the future’ concept because it can. You could argue it has no direct tech competitor on the market to worry about, so it’s focusing on its own strengths. And while it’s seeing the short-term benefits of this, in the longer term I’m not sure it would benefit the market.
As the saying goes, competition is healthy. Would Apple be where it is today without Microsoft? What about Audi and BMW? Arsenal and Tottenham?
Rivalry drives innovation and dominance can breed complacency. So if newcomer Lewison’s is going to enter the market, it better get a move on. Because Dixons is running riot right now.
And the best of British luck to them.