By Kymberly Martin

While the fall-out from retailers shutting their doors continues, JB Hi-Fi has announced plans to take its low cost way of doing business into the whitegoods sector.

Speaking to RetailBiz, chief executive, Terry Smart, said the trial in four existing JB Hi-Fi stores in Queensland will see the new concept stores carry all major brands and categories including small appliances, cooking and laundry.

Smart said research carried out with existing customers and other consumers was positive indicating the likelihood of success in the new category.

“There is an opportunity there for us that what the brand stands for translates to people having confidence buying from JB Hi-Fi in those categories.”

Asked if the initiative represented another direction for the group Smart said there has some been some misunderstanding about the new strategy. “This is not the case. We have a solid business and have been gaining significant share in most categories we operate in and will continue our store roll-out.”

He said there was an opening to test the strength of the brand in the $4 billion home appliances market.

The four concept stores being used in the six month trial were previously JB Hi-Fi stores with Clive Anthonys stores located next to it that have been converted to JB Hi-Fi Home. Smart said the Clive Anthonys business has been wound back and would disappear. “Hopefully to be replaced by JB Hi-Fi Home. Basically what we envisage is the traditional JB Hi-Fi store with the inclusion of appliances.”

In an earlier statement, Smart said the JB Hi-Fi low cost model for doing business makes it well positioned to take advantage of this opportunity. “We have seen a lot of consolidation of the home appliances category as companies with less efficient and higher cost bases struggle to remain relevant.”

Commenting on the announcement, Winning Group CEO, John Winning said he welcomes the competition. “We always strive to be better so more competition increases our commitment to the market.

“JB Hi-Fi has an interesting experience in A/V so it will be good to watch what they do with whitegoods.”

He said it has been a record year of sales, through stores and online in 2012 and the group is meeting its targets.

‘Consumers however continue to be cautious where they shop and spend, increasingly doing research before making a purchase decision.”

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