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Exclusive: Sony To Close Sydney Stores

Exclusive: Sony To Close Sydney Stores
Sony has just confirmed the closure to CN in a statement, blaming “changes in consumer behaviour.”

“Sony Australia has made the decision to close the Sony Centre World Square and Drummoyne stores.

“The last day of trading for both stores will be Sunday 3 March 2013.
Sony Australia remains committed to pursuing direct retail avenues and locations that will meet the needs of Sony customers.

“Responding to the changes in consumer behaviour, Sony will focus on an extension of the kiosk solution established in Westfield Chatswood in NSW.

“This retail model, offers shoppers the opportunity to get hands-on with Sony products in a flexible, high-traffic location.”

The announcement means there will be no Sony branded stores left in NSW.

These were the only two Sony Centres in NSW, the seven others are located in Brisbane, one in Adelaide, Hobart, three in Victoria and two in WA, with nine in total.

The move means there will now be only seven Sony Centres left in Oz.

Earlier, Sony’s assistant at its World Square store denied the store was closing, saying: “the Sony Store is not closing, it’s rebranding,” indicating there is definitely changes on the cards for its prime Sydney CBD location.

However, the store assistant refused to specify the nature of the “rebranding” exercise and whether it will be rebranded as a  Bing Lee store, saying it is a matter for Sony Australia.

But Sony Centre Drummoyne employee confirmed the closure saying: “we just don’t seem to get the traffic here.” 

When quzzed about where else one could buy Sony gear, CN was advised “retail outlets like Bing Lee and Harvey Norman.” 

In 2011, Bing Lee closed the Chatswood Sony store due to declining sales and the decision to exit the Sony branded retail stores comes as Samsung moves to open 12 Samsung branded stores in key retail locations. Sony Chatswood was one of the original Sony-branded stores in Australia.

Bing Lee was not available for comment. CN also contacted VideoPro, who operates the Sony Centres in Qld, and are awaiting a reply.

One observer said “Branded stores are all about location. The Bing Lee operated Sony stores were not in prime retail locations, some of the stores were in properties owned by Bing Lee so it suited them to locate the Sony store operation to these locations. Victoria Road Drummoyne is a classic example. We will see more brands set up their own retail operations but they have to be in high traffic destinations. This is what Sony is doing in the USA.”

As previously reported by CN, Sony has registered 19 different names in Australia including “The Sony Shop,” as well as Sony Centre, Sony Central and Sony Experience, according to ASIC business names register.

The move to close Sony branded stores comes as Sony appears to be behind the bulk of their past problems with the Company set to launch a new Playstation 4 gaming console, along with new digital cameras, tablets and a new range of Android smartphones this year.

Among the products that Sony is set to launch this year is the Sony Cyber-shot H20o. It comes with a brand new 21MP sensor and 26x  zoom. A Cyber-shot WX80 with a 16.2-megapixel sensor, 8x optical and Wi-Fi is also coming.

On the tough side is the waterproof Cyber-shot TF1 with 8x optical zoom and HD shooting. At CES 2013, Sony announced a new waterproof, all-in-one Walkman W273 media player along with new audio products in the wireless speaker space.

The choice of connectivity is Android Bluetooth or touch one-tap NFC. In the TV space Sony has announced the Bravia X900A 4K Ultra HD TV.

The Sony flagship 4K TV is expected midyear in Australia. Sony is also launching the world’s first 4K video distribution service to go along with the TVs.

The first Sony Centre opened almost 25 years ago and the company was one of the first to introduce the notion of branded stores, long before anyone ever heard of an Apple Store.

Sony Centres operate on a ‘Price Promise’ premise if products are “advertised at a lower price, we’ll match it.”