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Sony Selling Wal-Mart Direct

6/16/2003 03:15:00 PM Eastern

Bentonville, Ark. - Sony has ended its two-step distribution arrangement with Wal-Mart and has begun selling the discount chain direct.

The first fruits of the pact are four new Sony TV models that were set to hit a limited number of stores earlier this month.

According to Don Harris, executive VP/general merchandise for Wal-Mart's flagship stores, the partners will test the new supply chain in 200 to 250 locations before extending it nationwide.

'We've done a lot of business with Sony over the years but were never sold direct until now,' he said at a recent investor conference.

The change in distribution, announced at Wal-Mart's annual shareholders meeting this month, underscores recent strides and statements the world's largest retailer - and company - has made in pursuit of the CE market.

The low-cost leviathan, long content to conduct a commodity CE business, shocked specialty A/V dealers out of their complacency late last year with word of a 1,500-store test of HDTV, along with pockets of plasma displays.