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Is There A Lesson For CE Retailers In What UK Retailer Currys Is Doing As They Cuddle Up To Microsoft

Is there a lesson for Australian consumer electronics retailers from what UK Company Currys is doing, in what is seen as a changing environment for retailers especially when it comes to getting consumers through the door of stores.

Currys CEO Alex Baldock has declared that the electricals retailer is unconcerned about cannibalisation of foot traffic to their stores, as it expands into new areas such as refurbished products, repairs, and partnerships with brands such as Microsoft who are turning to the big retailer to repair their Surface notebooks.

Speaking at Shoptalk Europe 2024, Baldock told attendees that that in store staff at the electricals giant had shared their concerns, that their expansion of online sales was cannibalising store sales, they also raised the effects of a move to generate more revenue from refurbished products and repairs and its impact on the sale of new products.

Currys CEO Alex Baldock

Baldock declared: “We’d much rather cannibalise ourselves than have somebody else do it to us.”

Last week Microsoft revealed a new relationship with Currys that allows Surface customers to get their notebooks repaired with Currys after the retailer became Microsoft’s first official retail repair partner in the UK.

Previously, consumers could only go through Microsoft’s own support channels, now under the new deal customers can also call on Currys ’repair capabilities, no matter which retailer they purchased their device from.

His view is that if customers want a specific product or experience, Currys will fulfil that demand, even if it impacts existing lines of business as their priority is meeting customer needs.

The chief executive added that its repair business feeds their refurbished product business, tapping into the circular economy trend which he called “a big source of competitive advantage.”

The retailer was recently named Microsoft’s first official UK retail repair partner, receiving the title of authorised service provider, meaning any customers with Microsoft Surface laptops can now get them repaired at Currys.

Baldock called the partnership with Microsoft, alongside similar tie-ups with Apple and Samsung, “another source of differentiation” for the business as it continues to expand into new areas.

Recently the UK CE retailer announced a major investment in its physical stores.

The company is currently transforming 65 of its locations across the UK and the Republic of Ireland to what they describe as allowing them to better cater to the evolving needs of its tech-savvy customers.

These stores will see a significant makeover, with approximately 90% of their existing layout to be redesigned.

Improved navigation, enhanced product displays, and a more efficient mobile phone area are all part of the plan.

Additionally, back-of-house improvements will streamline operations and support store staff.

Sustainability is also a key focus of the project.

Currys is leveraging their Asset Reclaim Centre to source and reuse fixtures and fittings from previous store iterations.

This approach minimises waste and gives existing materials a new lease on life.

“We’re committed to our omnichannel offering, and know our customers love our stores and our tech experts,” said Matthew Speight, director of Stores at Currys.

“Investing in our retail fundamentals is critical to delivering value for our customers, and in particular, improving our store layouts and growing in-store ranges really excites me.”

The store revamp project is expected to continue through 2025.

Management claim that the initiative positions Currys to become an even more attractive destination for tech buyers seeking a convenient and informative shopping experience.

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