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RadioShack Targets College Bookstores

Fort Worth, Texas – Branded RadioShack sections will begin appearing in college bookstores this fall under a new five-year distribution agreement between the retailer and a leading college-market distributor.

Under the plan, the National Association of College Stores (Nacscorp) will offer its nearly 4,000 college accounts a tailored mix of RadioShack’s top-selling headphones, wireless speakers and power supplies under such brands as Beats by Dr. Dre, Skullcandy and SOL Republic, as well as the retailer’s own private-label Enercell and Auvio lines.

“This agreement lets our brand fill a specific need for college stores and for college students,” said recently installed RadioShack CEO Joe Magnacca. “This represents a unique opportunity for RadioShack to enter a non-traditional marketplace, and agreements like this are key to introducing new consumers to the role that RadioShack can play in their lives.”

RadioShack’s franchise VP Marty Amschler noted that college students are avid CE consumers, and that merchandising  “cool products they didn’t even know they needed” inside campus stores “is a great way to get the collegiate crowd interested in our brand” and tap into a whole new fan base.

Indeed, a key element of Magnacca’s turnaround plan for the ailing business is to refresh its image and draw a new, younger generation of customers to the 92-year-old chain. The first fruits of that effort include a suggestive music video spot for Beats’ Pill wireless speaker that began airing last month.

The new retail concept is expected to roll out in time for the fall semester.

Janney Montgomery Scott retail analyst David Strasser said the products will fill 4- to 12-foot sections of wall featuring RadioShack branding, and described the program as a more sensible and profitable strategy than its outsourced mobile departments for Target and Sam’s Club.

“This appears a sensible and logical growth vehicle that will not only drive profits but increased name recognition with a demographic they are not strong with at the moment,” he observed in a research note. “Clearly there is some thoughtful and sensible analysis being done at RadioShack these days.”