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RadioShack Opens 3 More Concept Stores

FORT WORTH, TEXAS — RadioShack opened three new concept stores last week, including one near corporate headquarters here that drew local dignitaries and past and present management to the ribbon cutting.

The other two, located in Detroit and Philadelphia, join eight “high-touch” stores in New York, New Jersey, Boston and Fort Worth that were designed from the ground up with interactive demos, touchscreen displays, and more intuitive floor plans to enhance the shopping experience.

RadioShack will also open two temporary “pop-up” stores this week in Times Square, and launch a national holiday marketing campaign.

To date, the concept stores have generated double-digit comp sales, CEO Joe Magnacca said, and the chain is on track to open 100 high-touch variations and bring some of their features to all 4,300 stores nationwide by year’s end.

The new Fort Worth store, located in a renovated shopping area in the old downtown district, was dedicated to former RadioShack president Lewis Kornfeld, who died in August at the age of 97. Kornfeld was perhaps best known for introducing one of the first mass-market PCs, the competitively priced TRS-80, which made RadioShack an early IT leader in the late 1970s.

On hand for the event was former RadioShack president and chairman Bernie Appel, past chairman/ CEO Len Roberts, former president Henry Chiarelli, members of the Kornfeld family, and Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price, among other VIP guests.

To highlight the company’s legacy, the Fort Worth store features such unique elements as historical videos, displays of retro products and old company logos, and a recreation of a ship’s communication center, or “radio shack,” from which the chain took its name.

In prepared remarks, Magnacca said he spent an afternoon with Kornfeld shortly before his passing, in which his predecessor shared his thoughts on where RadioShack lost its way.

Looking ahead, Magnacca told TWICE the company will continue to “flush out” outdated merchandise this season, including obsolete private-label brands, via Black Friday and other holiday promotions. The disposition of duplicative and non-productive inventory contributed to a steep loss in the third quarter, but the board-sanctioned action was necessary to sharpen the assortment, he said.

Gone are categories like personal navigation, and myriad private-label monikers that will simply be replaced by the RadioShack brand.

Magnacca also further deepened his management bench with the appointment of an as yet unannounced logistics chief. The new hire will join recent senior VP additions Paul Rutenis and Janet Fox, who head merchandising and global sourcing, respectively.

He said his turnaround strategy, which also includes fresh marketing and greater operational efficiencies, will be fully in place by next year, and was more than adequately funded even before GE Capital and other lenders agreed last month to provide $835 million in debt refinancing.

On the advertising front, marketing executive VP Jennifer Warren said the company is breaking a comprehensive new holiday campaign this week dubbed “Tech the Halls” that will tout RadioShack’s breadth of brand-name products and reinforce it as a shopping destination for gifts.

As for the Times Square pop-ups, store concepts executive VP Michael DeFazio, a former Magnacca colleague at Walgreens, described the area as one of the world’s most heavily trafficked locations. He said the two temporary shops will operate through mid-February and will feature prominent exterior signage that will be seen by spectators, and picked up by TV cameras, during the upcoming New Year’s Eve and Super Bowl celebrations.