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Best Buy Tightens Apple Relationship, Expanding Apple Watch, Adding AppleCare

Best Buy is tightening its relationship with Apple.

The national appliance/electronics retailer confirmed plans to roll out AppleCare extended-warranty plans in the current quarter and expand Apple Watch availability to all 1,050 of its big-box stores and to about 30 Best Buy Mobile Stores by the end of September, Best Buy CEO Hubert Joly said in an earnings call.

The Apple Watch became available in in more than 100 Best Buy stores in early August.

On top of that, Best Buy is updating Apple stores-within-a-store and launching Apple-authorized repair service, Joly said.

Demand for the Apple Watch “has been so strong in these (100) stores and online that

Starting Sept. 4, the device will be in more than 900 big-box stores on their way to all 1,050 and the 30 Best Buy Mobile stores by the end of that month, he said.

As for the company’s 740 Apple stores-within-a-store, launched starting in 2007, the chain is expanding the stores’ footprints with more display tables for phones, computers, tablets, and the Apple Watch. “We’ve already implemented approximately 350 of them and expect to upgrade a total of approximately 520 by holiday,” he said.

Besides selling AppleCare later this quarter, he also said, the chain “will proceed to roll out our capabilities as an Apple-authorized service provider first with in-store pilots in 50 locations by holiday.”

In other topics, Joly said the chain:

— expanded its Samsung home theater stores-within-a-store from 500 at launch to 603 and Sony home theater stores-within-a-store from 350 at launch to 372. The chain doesn’t build more than one type of store-within-a-store within the same retail location.

–rolled out 5 of 20 planned Magnolia Design Center stores-within-a-store for this year, increasing their presence to 63 stores.

— rolled out 35 of the 60 additional Pacific Kitchen & Home stores-within-a-store planned for this year, increasing their presence to 152 locations.  The deployment “is helping us drive better customer experience and market share, in particular, not only in the extreme high-end but also in the better and best part of the market, which is where a lot of the interesting action is.”

–began the rollout of expanded Samsung Appliance Experiences and expects to roll out about 225 Samsung Open Houses by the end of the year. They will represent the largest dedicated in-store display of Samsung appliances in the U.S., he said

In other comments, Joly said “the increasing complexity and interoperability of technology products and the advent of the Internet of Things” are making Best Buy’s operating model “increasingly relevant as customers want and need more help selecting, installing, connecting, integrating, using, maintaining and taking full advantage of their products.”