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Cambridge SoundWorks Steps Up Retail Presence

Cambridge SoundWorks continues to expand distribution beyond its direct-sales channels with the launch of a hi-fi tabletop AM/FM radio targeted to regional specialty chains, independents and select catalogers.

The company, founded in 1988 as a factory-direct marketer of Cambridge SoundWorks-branded speakers, also plans to offer its DVD-equipped home theater systems through these channels.

“For the first time, we’re making a product available to the whole consumer electronics channel,” said business development VP Robert Mainiero. In the recent past, the factory-direct marketer has tapped indirect retail channels with limited exclusive deals.

From 1995-1997, for example, the company sold Cambridge-branded speakers through Best Buy. In early 2001, the company launched Cambridge speakers through J&R, followed last fall by sales through Fry’s and Last fall, Cambridge also began test sales of its DVD-equipped HTiB systems through Fry’s and J&R. A previous-generation tabletop radio was also sold through the upscale Herrington catalog.

Besides speakers and HTiBs, the company sells other-brand electronics through its catalog, e-commerce site, toll-free number and 25 brick-and-mortar stores in California and New England. The first store opened in 1991.

The new radio, a single-chassis model, will be available in the coming weeks through Harvey’s, J&R, Fry’s and the PC Connection catalog, Mainiero said. “We’re talking to other regional specialists and independents,” he said, but Cambridge isn’t targeting national retailers just yet.

A one-piece version that plays MP3-CDs is due in the fall through direct and indirect channels.

To manage channel conflict, Cambridge has established a uniform unilateral pricing policy for products sold simultaneously through retail partners and through its own direct channels, Mainiero said. The radio prices are $249 for the non-CD model and $399 for the CD version. Four DVD-equipped HTiB systems are priced from $699 to $1,399.