Retailer News

Amazon's Next Purchase: Game Streaming

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Amazon's Next Purchase: Game Streaming

Amazon announces its next (quasi) billion-dollar acquisition-- video game live streaming service Twitch. The price? $970 million in cash.

As it stands Twitch is all of 3 years old. It spun off from live-streaming site Justin.tv, a service shuttered down earlier this month. It allows gamers to share play to live audiences, and while that might not sound like much on July 2014 alone it boasted over 55 million visitors, with over 1 million broadcasters streaming over 15 billion minutes of content. And such numbers are surely valuable to Amazon in its quest to push content on its mobile devices.

Currently Twitch users can broadcast gameplay sessions on PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4.

"Broadcasting and watching gameplay is a global phenomenon," Amazon boss Jeff Bezos says. "Twitch has built a platform that brings together tens of millions of people who watch billions of minutes of games each month-- from The International, to breaking the world record for Mario, to gaming conferences like E3."

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Haas Remains Media-Saturn CEO

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Haas Remains Media-Saturn CEO

The Metro Group wins one in the struggle for control over Media-Saturn-- the Inglostadt district court rejects Media-Saturn founder Erich Kellerhals' demands for the replacement of current CEO Pieter Haas.

According to the court's Chamber of Commerce the appointment of Haas was neither "in bad faith nor unreasonable," meaning he retains his job as CEO… if for the time being.

The Metro Group, of course, welcomes the decision-- unlike Kellerhals, who as powerful minority shareholder already drove not one but two CEOs to throw the towel in his Game of Thrones for control of the CE retailer.

Kellerhals is not too happy with Haas as CEO. "In one interview after another [Haas] boasts of supposedly having a new strategy,"  the grand old man wrote on his website. "In closer inspection all turns out to just hot air."

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Amazon Launches Online 3D Printer Store

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Amazon Launches Online 3D Printer Store

As we predicted, Amazon has launched an online store featuring customisable 3D printed objects, which will be produced on demand by the company’s 3D printing provider, and shipped to the client. This approach, bringing manufacturing several steps closer to the consumer without requiring them to invest in a printer in the home, was forecast in our overview of 3D printing in November 2013.

Amazon announced a marketplace that gives customers access to more than 200 unique print on-demand products, many that can be customised by material, size, styles and colour variations, and personalised with text and image imprints. The new store is one of the largest online destinations to discover 3D printed products featuring convenient search tools, interactive 3D preview functionality and a product personalisation widget. At launch to start, customers will find a wide range of items to browse including jewellery, toys, home décor and fashion accessories.

“The introduction of our 3D Printed Products store suggests the beginnings of a shift in online retail - that manufacturing can be more nimble to provide an immersive customer experience. Sellers, in alignment with designers and manufacturers, can offer more dynamic inventory for customers to personalise and truly make their own,” said Petra Schindler-Carter of Amazon.

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Will Metro Sell Media-Saturn to Founder?

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Will Metro Sell Media-Saturn to Founder?

If Media-Saturn founder Erich Kellerhals pushed a bid for the Metro stake in Media-Saturn the retailer would have to consider the offer, Metro board member and interim Media-Saturn CEO Pieter Haas tells German newspaper Die Welt.

"If Mr Kellerhals were to present a good offer, Metro's duty to exercise due diligence would require us to examine it," Haas says. However, in a following statement Metro insists it is not considering the sale, issuing a statement saying "we merely said that we would by law have to look at any offer."

Metro owns 78% of Media-Saturn, the 2nd-largest CE retail chain in the world. The rest belongs to Erich Kellerhals, Media-Saturn founder and grand old pain in the board's collective neck. Metro and Kellerhals have been waging a Game of Thrones over control of the retailer for years, one where Kellerhals drove not one but two CEOs to throw the towel.

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Saturn Exits the Netherlands

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Saturn Exits the Netherlands

Media-Saturn Holding announces its two-brand strategy is not working in the Netherlands, and thus it will drop the Saturn brand from the Dutch market and rebrand all Saturn outlets to Media Markt.

"Considering this strategy, Saturn does not distinguish itself enough and the two-brand strategy is not enough of an added value for the customer," the retailer says. "We will have more focus, speed and power if we choose the largest and stronger consumer electronics brand and we can invest more in customer-focused innovations with the money this move saves."

Saturn stores in the Netherlands total around 30. All will be rebranded as Media Markt, and jobs will be cut.

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Finland's Kesko Shutters CE Operation

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Finland's Kesko Shutters CE Operation

Finnish multi-format retailer Kesko shutters its Musta Pörssi CE operation Pam Magazine reports, with its remaining outlets to continue operating only by the end of the year.

The last 5 Musta Pörssi outlets are in Espoo, Finland, Helsini, Kouvola and Vantaa. Kesko is currently going through negations with employees, although it has already laid off 35 people.

The retailer cites shifting market preferences and lower sales as reasons behind the closures. However it will continue dealing in CE, if via e-commerce.

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EE To Pull Out of CPW?

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EE To Pull Out of CPW?

The Telegraph reports mobile operator EE sets to pull out of its retail relationship with Carphone Warehouse, a move potentially threatening to the £3.4 billion CPW-Dixons "merger of equals."

As the newspaper puts it the operator is soon concluding a consumer retail strategy review-- one with a complete withdrawal from CPW is a potential result. The review also covers CPW rival Phones4U, and a similar conclusion could also be a result.

However EE refutes the story, telling PC Pro the Telegraph article is an "inaccurate extrapolation" from an earlier announcement, even if it also stresses the review has not reached any decision as yet.

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Dixons Sells Off C. European Operations

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Dixons Sells Off C. European Operations

Following its recent Carphone Warehouse merger Dixons sells off its C. European ElectroWorld operations to NAY, another CE specialist retailer in the region.

The asking price for the 26-store chain spread across the Czech Republic and Slovakia? A "small deferred cash consideration" payable over the next 3 years. However the operation was not going too well, having lost £5.6 million in the fiscal year ending April 2014.

"I am very pleased that we have been able to secure a strong future for Electroworld who will be able to flourish as a part of the NAY Group in Central Europe," Dixons CEO Sebastian James says. "Following this transaction Dixons will be a market leader in every market in which it operates, delivering on one of our key strategic objectives."

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Dixons, Carphone Warehouse Agree on Merger

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Dixons, Carphone Warehouse Agree on Merger

Dixons and Carphone Warehouse reach an agreement on the merger first announced back in February 2014-- a deal bringing together two of the biggest retailers in the UK into a single a company worth around £3.4 billion.

This so-called "merger of equals" creates "Dixons Carphone", a mega-retailer with 3000 stores (across Currys, PC World and CPW outlets) and combined sales of nearly £11 billion. Each retailer owns 50% of the combined entity, and as a result every Dixons store will start housing a CPW outlet.

As for leadership, CPW chairman Sir Charles Dunstone chairs a 14-strong Dixons Carphone board, with Dixons CEO Sebastian James as CEO and CPW CEO Andrew Harrison as deputy CEO.

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Horst Norberg Media-Saturn CEO No More

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Horst Norberg Media-Saturn CEO No More

Media-Saturn CEO Horst Norberg throws the towel after 27 years at the company due to feeling he no longer has the full support of the entire Metro ownership.

"It is for this reason that I have decided to resign from my post and make way for a new manager who can join forces with all our colleagues to lead Media-Saturn to a successful future," Norberg says.

Replacing Norberg in the in the interim is board member Pieter Haas.

Norberg joined Media-Saturn in 1987 as managing director of Media Markt stores in Braunscheig and Mülheim, before promotion to the Saturn management board. He became Saturn COO in 2001 and took over the retailer as CEO in 2011 on a contract running until end 2015.

The most recent Media-Saturn leadership decision taken by Norberg involves a "comprehensive strategic and structural reorientation with the aim of becoming a truly multichannel retailer."

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Sony, Samsung Home Theatre at Best Buy

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Sony, Samsung Home Theatre at Best Buy

In the US Best Buy is pushing the "home theatre experience" with an expansion of the store-in-a-store concept-- Sony gets pop-up stores in 350 Best Buy locations, while Samsung adds 500 outlets to its previously established presence.

Within the Best Buy outlets the two companies will be selling their biggest and loudest home entertainment products, namely UHD/4K TVs and the audio systems.

The stores-in-a-store also get staff in the shape of "knowledgable and friendly" Blue Shirts and company experts.

Outside the Sony/Samsung areas Best Buy is also tweaking its home theatre sections with large screen TV showcase areas, grab'n'go shopping for small- and mid-size TVs and soundbar listening stations.

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