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RCA Goes Retail With RadioShack

INDIANAPOLIS -- Thomson Consumer Electronics and Radio-Shack will officially kick off the five-year RCA Digital Entertainment Center "store-within-a-store" deal on June 6 with a press event and concert with recording star Jewel in New York.

The installation of the Centers, which began soon after the announcement of this deal last year is 98 percent complete in the 5,000 company owned & operated RadioShack stores nationwide. The agreement includes around 100 RCA-brand audio and video SKUs.

The 2,000 franchised RadioShack locations will get displays if they order a predetermined amount of RCA product, according to David T. Kranstuber, Thomson's general manager of RadioShack strategic alliance marketing & sales. He noted that installation of the Centers in those stores have begun and will continue through 2001.

Among the featured products that are part of the RCA display in RadioShack are RCA-brand DirecTV satellite dishes, DVD players, digital cameras, the Lyra digital audio recorder, Dolby Digital receivers, a 36-inch HDTV monitor, an HDTV set-top box, 19- to 32-inch analog TVs, TV/VCR combos, VCRs, shelf audio systems, and accessories.

About 15 percent of the RCA Digital Entertainment Center lineup is exclusive to the chain.

During a sneak preview of the Center, executives with Thomson and RadioShack said those exclusives include portable electronics, speakers and other items that RadioShack's Optimus brand used to represent. Optimus will now be a car electronics-only brand, according to John Brant, RadioShack district sales manager in the Indianapolis area.

The retail displays were designed by Thomson and RadioShack, with the manufacturer picking up the tab, estimated at "millions of dollars," for their construction. The space the Center replaces was previously occupied by the Optimus audio/video line. Depending upon the size of the RadioShack location, the Digital Entertainment Centers will range from 16 to 18 feet of wall space, with a couple of POP displays in front of each wall display.

When asked how RadioShack will handle stocking and consumer delivery of the RCA line -- especially the big-screen TVs -- due to the typically small size of an outlet, Brant said that ideally "product will be in stock, and the consumer can take it when they leave the store. If we are out of stock delivery will be made in two days."

In an interview with TWICE at Thomson's Indianapolis headquarters, Michael O'Hara, senior VP/Americas, outlined how the company positioned the deal with its other retail customers and what this means for the RCA brand.

"We were up front and talked about the deal to our customers, told them it was a `store-within-a-store' concept," he explained. "This is an exclusive deal, different than our relationships with Circuit City, Sears and Best Buy."

O'Hara remarked that RadioShack "came to us for a proposal" and that "other companies were vying for this deal, such as Sony, so our customers understood what was going on."

From Thomson's perspective the deal is indicative of the move from analog to digital technology because "these new products invite more questions. And as RadioShack says, `If you've got questions, we've got answers.' It's a good fit for us."

Look for RadioShack ads that highlight the RCA Entertainment Center and special Father's Day gift-giving ideas, and feature Howie Long and Teri Hatcher, to break right before the June 6 event in New York.

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