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Pioneer To Open First Company Store

6/27/2006 11:04:00 AM Eastern

Costa Mesa, Calif. — Pioneer will open its first company-operated store in early August.

The 3,200-square-foot store, currently under construction at the tony South Coast Plaza mall here in Orange County, will carry the full line of Pioneer and Pioneer Elite home A/V products, and select mobile SKUs including satellite radio receivers. The store will also test new merchandise, sell other products that are unavailable in the United States and will provide limited installation services.

Pioneer said merchandising insights gleaned from the store will be shared with its retail partners, along with any promising new products that are deemed appropriate for its dealer base.

The store opening will come four months after Pioneer began selling direct to consumers online. Both initiatives are being directed by Pioneer veteran Craig McManis, who was appointed to the new positions of direct sales VP and Pioneer stores VP. Pioneer will await results from the Costa Mesa store before determining when, where or if additional locations will be rolled out, he said.

McManis, who previously handled national accounts sales and home electronics marketing for Pioneer USA, said the retail store will serve as a showcase for Pioneer and as a laboratory for new product development. “We’re going to introduce some unique ideas that are hard to launch in larger retail footprints,” he said. “The things we want to accomplish could disrupt business for our retail partners and may require additional support,” he said.

By way of example, McManis pointed to a new line of home theater furniture that incorporates sound into the furniture itself. “We’re going to determine if it’s relevant to our dealer base,” he said, while “customer feedback will help us improve future products.”

The store will also provide customers with single-room home installation services that will be provided by Pioneer staff and may also be outsourced to local retail partners.

McManis added that the South Coast Plaza mall — reportedly the highest-grossing shopping mall in California and frequented by the Hollywood elite — was chosen for its well-heeled demographic that’s coveted by Pioneer.

Pioneer now joins the growing ranks of CE manufacturers who operate their own retail stores, including Apple, Bose, Sony and most recently Dell and Nokia.

Pioneer will also open a company-operated store in Tokyo, and plans to open 17 in-store shops within Chinese retail stores by fiscal 2008.