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Best Buy Adding Samsung A/V Shops In Home Theater Overhaul

Updated! Minneapolis – Best Buy will open Samsung TV and audio shops in 500 stores this year as part of a major revamp of its in-store home-theater presentation.

The shops will join similar Sony Experience sections that will begin rolling out to 350 of the chain’s approximately 1,000 flagship stores later this month.

The branded boutiques will serve as anchors to a completely redesigned video and audio department, which will feature an open layout, soundbar and loudspeaker listening stations, and a new “grab-and-go” display for TVs 40 inches and smaller.

Like the Sony sections, the Samsung Entertainment Experience areas will be staffed by vendor-trained personnel and will showcase the manufacturer’s line of UHD TVs and audio products, including its Shape wireless audio multi-room system. According to Best Buy chief merchandising officer Mike Mohan, the shops “will give consumers access to the largest Samsung curved UHD TV assortment.”

Online versions of the Samsung and Sony shops will be added to in June.

The announcement comes one year after the launch of Samsung mobile boutiques at Best Buy stores chain-wide.

In a statement, Samsung Electronics America president Tim Baxter said, “We understand the importance of the product experience in stores and will continue to work with our retail partners to showcase next-generation technologies through effective merchandising solutions.”

Best Buy president/CEO Hubert Joly has been aggressively pursuing a branded-shop strategy, which includes last summer’s launch of Microsoft computing departments, in an effort to boost sales-floor productivity and replace fading categories like physical media.

The home-theater remodels will begin rolling out chain-wide later this month, a Best Buy spokesman told TWICE, and in some locations may be moved to other areas of the store. The rollout should be completed by summer.

Large-screen TVs by LG, Panasonic, Sharp, Toshiba and Vizio will be arranged by brand along a TV wall that’s flanked by the Samsung and Sony sections, and select premium SKUs, including an LG model, will receive their own showcase displays, the spokesman said.

There will also be a separate section for accessories, and the listening stations will include tower, center-channel and bookshelf speakers.

Industry analyst Stephen Baker lauded the revamp as a welcome shot-in-the-arm for a stagnant TV market. While long overdue, and more evolutionary than revolutionary, the NPD Group VP said in a blog that “This is probably exactly what Best Buy, and others that might copy them, should do — stabilize the core [TV business] and highlight the growth potential, and then reinvent the category’s merchandising as the products reinvent themselves.”