Will flat-screen TVs boost RadioShack's flat sales?

Filed under: Retail |

When RadioShack Corp. closed 480 stores, the company’s plan was to freshen its merchandise offerings. Part of the new look will include a return to selling televisions, flat-panel TVs, that is.

Televisions were phased out of RadioShack’s in 2002 to make room for smaller items. And the electronics retailer has no illusions about how long it might take to lure in its new target market.

“We do not expect the turnaround plan to produce miracles overnight, and we will not over-promise in our delivery,” said interim Chief Executive Claire Babrowski. “The plan is an 18- to 36-month plan, and we just started in the first quarter of this year. They take time to kick in.”

Babrowski said the company tested flat-screen sales in 40 markets last year, and is ready for a nationwide rollout next month.

“It won’t be the complete breadth and depth in every store,” she said. “We are just waiting for inventory, so it’s a question of when as the inventory rolls in.”

At the end of 2005, RadioShack had nearly 7,400 company- and franchise-operated stores, plus retail kiosks that sold wireless phones and accessories.

But will the company will be able to compete with flat-panel TV retailers such as Best Buy Co., Circuit City Stores Inc. and Wal-Mart?

Last month, Circuit City reported quarterly television sales increased by double digits, a boost led by triple-digit same-store sales growth in flat-panel offerings.

Babrowski, who joined RadioShack last July as chief operating officer, said she didn’t know why RadioShack waited so long to sell the flat-panel TVs.

She added the flat-panel market is still emerging.

“Flat-screen TVs, although they are widely available now, remain a product that has confusion around it for the consumer,” she said. “What cables do you have it hooked up to it and what kind of signal do you have are things we specialize in.”

The company will limit store offerings to 32-inch flat panel TVs, but make larger screens available through online sales, Babrowski said.

Last year, the company’s earnings fell to $267 million from $337 million. Revenue climbed to $5.08 billion from $4.84 billion.

RadioShack suffered an 85 percent earnings drop during the first quarter, to $8.4 million for the quarter ending March 31 compared to $55 million a year earlier. The first-quarter earnings were hurt by disappointing sales of cellular phones and a write-down of the electronics retailer’s assets and inventory.

Pep Boys showcase new look

Pep Boys has unveiled eight remodeled stores in Denver and Colorado Springs.

In addition to updated exteriors and interiors, new products range from power tools and generators to the latest in mobile entertainment and automotive repair equipment.

“All of our Denver and Colorado Springs stores now feature bolder product displays that leverage our massive retail space, maximize sales per square foot, create a permanent space for exciting new product categories, including garage and transportation, and highlight the repair and maintenance service we provide in our 6,000 service bays chainwide,” said CEO Larry Stevenson.

The new look has appealed to customers in Jacksonville, Fla.; Los Angeles and San Diego; Philadelphia and Harrisburg, Pa.; Chicago; Phoenix and Tucson; Las Vegas and greater New York.

By 2008, Pep Boys plans to complete the refurbishment of nearly all of its 593 stores in the United States and Puerto Rico.

Lowe’s sees big gain in profits

Lowe’s Cos. Inc. has picked up market share in appliances and outdoor power equipment – posting 44 percent rise in first-quarter profit – reaching its biggest gain in more than three years.

Lowe’s is the No. 2 home improvement retailer, behind Home Depot Inc. Lowe’s reported first-quarter 2006 sales of $11.92 billion, a 20.3 percent increase from sales of $9.91 billion for the first quarter of 2005.

Earnings came to $841 million, or $1.06 a share, for the first quarter, ended May 5, compared with $586 million, or 73 cents a share, a year earlier. Sales at stores open at least a year, a retail measure known as same-store sales, rose 5.7 percent.

Lowe’s, which started selling John Deere lawn tractors this year, has posted better sales and profit growth than Home Depot as it moves into markets such as New York. Lowe’s opened 24 stores during the first quarter. As of May 5, Lowe’s operated 1,258 stores in 49 states, representing 142.8 million square feet of retail selling space, a 12.9 percent increase over last year.

Lowe’s expects to open 155 stores in 2006, reflecting total square footage growth of about 12 percent.

Total sales are expected to increase about 13 percent for the year, which is a 52-week fiscal year compared to 53-week fiscal year in 2005.

Last week, Home Depot posted a 19 percent rise in quarterly profit, but sales at its retail stores trailed forecasts.

QuikDrop stores expanding franchises in Colorado

A QuikDrop store, owned by Mahlon, Joanie and Zach Lang, has opened at 7180 N. Academy, north of Woodmen and Home Depot.

The store is a drop-off franchise for eBay.

In August 2003, QuikDrop opened its first franchise, and has grown to more than 90 locations.

Joan Johnson covers retail for the Colorado Springs Business Journal.