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Circuit Adds Mitsubishi 1,080p TVs

Irvine, Calif. — Mitsubishi Digital Electronics America announced today that it has reconnected with CircuitCity, and will begin selling select 1,080p microdisplay rear-projection and LCD TVs through the retailer starting in early August.

Company executives told TWICE they could not disclose specific models that will be involved in the deal other then that all would have 1,080p capability.

“We are very focused on 1,080p as is CircuitCity, so we will be offering them both 1,080p DLP as well as 1,080p flat-panel LCD TV products,” said Frank DeMartin, Mitsubishi marketing VP.

In a statement on the move, CircuitCity chief merchandising officer and executive VP Doug Moore said, “We are excited to offer Mitsubishi’s quality, high-performance products to our customers, enabling them to experience the picture performance and high-style design of Mitsubishi 1,080p large-screen and 1,080p flat-panel HDTVs.

“The addition of these products plays a role in our innovative home entertainment enhancement, which we plan to rollout in 500-plus stores by the end of this year. Mitsubishi is an added-value brand, and we’re pleased to have their presence in our product lineup.”

Max Wasinger, Mitsubishi sales and marketing senior VP, said the company will stick to its established practice of “selling the right products through the right dealers,” adding that the company’s high-end Diamond Series models would continue to be reserved for specialty A/V dealers.

“We have three different lines and we want to make sure that the shoe fits for the dealers that we sell,” Wasinger said.

The deal marks a reuniting of the two companies since Mitsubishi left the chain in the mid 1990s.

“Times change, people change and the business changes,” Wasinger said. “So now with our 1,080p push, we think it’s the right thing to do. They think it’s the right thing to do, and we are very excited about the opportunity to grow our business together.”

Although at one time Mitsubishi maintained a selective distribution strategy that focused on A/V specialty dealers to the exclusion of the national chains, executives from the TV maker said market changes directed the expansion.

“The other day, I was looking at Mitsubishi’s top 20 accounts from 10 years ago, and 10 of them are gone,” Wasinger said.

“As our product line has changed, as the industry has changed — not only the product categories but in the retail landscape — we felt it was something we needed to do,” DeMartin explained. “I think that our other retail partners and current dealers see that things have changed significantly, and this is something that is going to make the Mitsubishi brand more recognized, and will build awareness.”

The company would not disclose details of the agreement, including CircuitCity’s floor space or model number commitments, but DeMartin said, “Clearly with their emphasis on 1,080p and our emphasis on 1,080p, we will be prominent on their floors.”

Mitsubishi will offer CircuitCity special training programs to help build support for the products on the sales floor, DeMartin said.

Mitsubishi will take part in a Circuit City-hosted training event in late August, providing face-to-face product training with store and category managers at the store level, he continued, adding that more than 1,500 CircuitCity associates would take part in the program.

Mitsubishi will also open its annual 20-city road show to CircuitCity sales associates, he said, and the TV maker will have an ongoing presence in the chain’s weekend meetings.

Meanwhile, Wasinger said Mitsubishi also continues its relationship with CircuitCity rival Best Buy, adding, “We appreciate their emphasis, loyalty and the relationship, and we look forward to continuing to grow our relationship together.”

The announcement of Mitsubishi’s partnership with Best Buy several years ago generated consternation among some of Mitsubishi’s smaller A/V specialty accounts that used the line to avoid the heavy price promotion practices of the national chains.

Wasinger said that while the two national chains have similar sales strategies and customer targets, Mitsubishi will handle each account on an individualized basis, “tailoring our programs to their individual needs.”