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J&R Exploring Strategic Alternatives

New York — J&R Music & Computer World is weighing its strategic options amid continuing marketplace challenges.

The closely held company, founded 43 years ago by namesakes Joe and Rachelle Friedman, has been in talks with several parties over possible partnerships and opportunities, sources told TWICE.

Discussions with one potential partner, Brooklyn-based Focus Camera, dead-ended this week, a person close to the Friedman family confirmed. A deal would have reportedly provided Focus with J&R’s website, showroom and, ostensibly, its vendor authorizations in exchange for sales commissions and rental fees.

Located near the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge and across from New York City Hall Park, J&R is a storied CE dealer with roots in the music industry, and has long been a destination for musicphiles, celebrities, guest performers and tourists.

But challenges arose as foot traffic dissipated in Lower Manhattan after 9/11, and CE margin declines made its broad assortment and block-long row of storefronts unsustainable, general manager Michael Eid told TWICE last year.

Indeed, CE sales fell 9 percent to about $364 million in 2012, according to TWICE’s Top 100 CE Retailers Report, and last spring the dealer consolidated staff, SKUs and showrooms into a single location to reduce costs and recalibrate the business. Two of the former J&R locations, which had been leased at 33-34 Park Row, were recently listed with New York realtor Massey Knakal for sale as a development site.

But partnership feelers aside, “Nothing has changed,” the Friedman confidant noted. “J&R and are open for business.”