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RadioShack: Lessons Learned

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RadioShack: Lessons Learned

by John Lostroscio, principal, Lostroscio & None, LLC.

I served as vice president of merchandising, CE Products, for RadioShack, from September, 2010, to December, 2013. This was the last corporate position I held, and after 35+ years experience in the consumer electronics industry, I decided to hang out my own shingle, forming a consultancy in 2014.

My three years at RadioShack were interesting, to say the least. During my tenure, we had four CEO’s, the last being Joe Magnacca. Joe is a dynamic merchant, who brought an enthusiasm and excitement that was sorely needed. Suffice to say, he inherited a company that was already on life support.

Much has been written about “the aftermath of RadioShack,” including a fair amount of Monday morning quarterbacking. Many of opinions that I’ve read have a level of merit. The fact is RadioShack faced significant challenges; some of their own doing, and others the result of how the industry itself has changed over the past few years.

I will address these challenges and provide insight to impart valuable lessons learned.

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Google Opens First Google-Branded Shop

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Google Opens First Google-Branded Shop

Google opens a first branded store-in-a-store-- called the Google shop-- selling Android smartphones and tablets, Chromebook notebooks and Chromecasts inside the Currys PC World on Tottenham Court Road, London.

The outlet allows customers to test out the aforementioned devices, as well as play with a surround screen installation dubbed "Portal," scrawl own versions of the Google logo with virtual spray paint on a Doodle Wall and consume media in a self-explanatory Chromecast Pod. Google also plans to organise classes and events on topics such as device use, online security and basic coding.

"This will be a new and innovative way for customers to engage in store, interacting with the immersive technology as well as having fun while learning," Currys PC World says. "Google experts will be on hand to maximise the experience for users and provide help and support around the Google eco-system. This fantastic space compliments the interactive and informative environment we aim to create for customers visiting all of our stores.”

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For Sale: The RadioShack Name

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For Sale: The RadioShack Name

Stores are not the only thing the bankrupt RadioShack is selling, Bloomberg reports-- the anachronistic 94-year old brand is also hitting the auction block, with bids starting at $20 million.

Standard General, an affiliate lender of General Wireless and buyer of as many as 2000 US RadioShack stores, leads the bidding.

Also on sale are the rest of RadioShack's 4000 stores, some of which will be bought by games retailer GameStop. An unspecified number of stores will be co-branded with mobile carrier Sprint.

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Weaker-Than-Expected Fiscal Q3 for Darty

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Weaker-Than-Expected Fiscal Q3 for Darty

Darty reports Y-o-Y sales declines of -2.9% Y-o-Y for fiscal Q3 (the period from 1 November 2014 31 January 2015), as the period suffers from comparison to a stronger 2014 and a weak tablet and digital camera sales.

Also hitting the retailer's quarter-- and consumer confidence-- are the terrorist attacks on Paris in early January, offsetting strong performance on the Black Friday weekend and web sales growth reaching nearly 10% to make 15% of total product sales.

Darty says multichannel click-and-collect proves popular, with 30% of December online sales being collected in-store.

However total group revenues are up by 2.4%, thanks to "good" growth in the white goods and communications categories. The quarter also saw the retailer adding 11 franchisees in France (bringing the total number of French franchise stores to 34) and completing the acquisition of 17 "profitable" Netherlands outlets from HiM Retail.

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RadioShack Files Bankruptcy, Sells Stores

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RadioShack Files Bankruptcy, Sells Stores

Time has indeed run out for RadioShack-- the venerable retailer files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and announces the sale of up to 2400 US stores to Standard General, an affiliate of lender General Wireless.

Following the agreement General Wireless will team up with mobile carrier Sprint to create dedicated "store within a store" outlets in up to 1750 of the acquired RadioShack stores.

"These steps are the culmination of a thorough process intended to drive maximum value for our stakeholders," RadioShack CEO Joe Magnacca says.

The agreement covers RadioShack's 4000 stores in the US, and does not include the dealer franchise stores in other countries, meaning the 94-year old RadioShack name might still live on elsewhere as a franchised brand name.

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Staples Buys Office Depot

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Staples Buys Office Depot

Staples acquires rival office supply retailer Office Depot in a $6.3 billion deal, one analysts describe as an attempt to avoid the fate of the likes of RadioShack in the face of Walmart and online competition.

The acquisition is, of course, not without controversy-- after all, Staples and Office Depot are the top two office supplies retailers in the US, and as such it will surely fire up the ire of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and antitrust investigators. In fact, the authorities already stopped a previous attempt at a Staples-Office Depot merger back in 1996.

Then again, one can point out the FTC approved of Office Depot's November 2014 acquisition of the no. 3 office supply retailer, OfficeMax, not to mention a changing industry where Amazon and mega retailers such as Walmart and Costco also stab at B2B business.

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The End is Nigh for RadioShack?

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The End is Nigh for RadioShack?

Bloomberg is the latest to report on the woes affecting RadioShack-- apparently the retailer is set to shut down in a bankruptcy deal selling around half its store leases to Sprint and closing the rest.

The anonymous sources add the sold outlets will operate under the Sprint name, meaning the 94-year old RadioShack will cease to exist as a stand-alone retailer. However negotiations are still ongoing, meaning talks can either break down or lead to a co-branding agreement, possibly as part of a store-within-a-store concept involving the wireless carrier.

Another possibility is that of another bidder entering the fray-- such as the Sanpower Group, the Chinese backers who took the Brookstone chain out of bankruptcy back in June 2014.

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Dixons Carphone Teams Up with EE

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Dixons Carphone Teams Up with EE

In an effort to avoid the same fate as Phones4U-- specifically that of closing down due to losing support from the major UK mobile carriers-- Dixons Carphone forms a multi-year alliance with EE.

The retailer already has similar long-term agreements with Vodafone and O2, as confirmed earlier last year.

“This long term partnership with EE takes us in to the next decade with a joint focus on the amazing potential of connected technology, building on EE’s industry-leading 4G network and growing presence in the home," Carphone Warehouse CEO Graham Stapleton says. "Creating deeper relationships with our network partners reinforces the ongoing importance of providing customers with independent advice and deals that are personalised to their needs."

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Context: European Retailers Eye IoT

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Context: European Retailers Eye IoT

Representatives from a number of retailers, including Dixons, Darty, Euronics and Bimeks, discuss the issues European retail faces in 2015 at a Context breakfast briefing, such as the advent of the Internet of Things (IoT).

Also in attendance were vendors and distributors such as Lenovo, Acer, Samsung, AMD, Netgear, Webroot, the GTDC and Esprinet.

“IoT is one of the main topics for 2015, but the IoT landscape is complex, fragmented and in full motion," Euronics International president Hans Carpels says. "It is not an easy area to serve as a retailer.”

According to Carpels such complexity deters customers from making related acquisitions-- and as such retailers need to fully "explain the efficiency and the economic advantages.”

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