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New Age Expands Into Digital Entertainment Arena

New Age Electronics, the $750 million logistics, distribution and remanufacturing resource, is expanding its computing and printing base into digital home entertainment.

The strategic move follows the company’s selection by Hewlett-Packard last year to distribute its HP digital entertainment suite, including the HP Apple iPod. To help spearhead the expansion, New Age recently brought in senior VP Fred Towns, formerly senior VP/sales and marketing at Panasonic, who is also consolidating links with existing retail partners. These national and regional chains include the online arms of Best Buy, Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club, Sears and Costco; the military exchanges; and the brick-and-mortar channel for BJ’s and BrandsMart U.S.A.

Towns told TWICE that New Age is well-poised to help retailers bridge the IT and CE gap with its 500 million square feet of warehouse space, 37-time inventory turns, its PC roots, customized programs and background in solution selling.

“We offer solutions vs. simply providing a box and a price,” and can supply “any type of solution on the fly,” he said, including specialty bundles, customized products and customer- and channel-specific programs. The approach mirrors the needs of consumers, who are frequently looking for entire home solutions rather than individual items, he explained.

What’s more, since consumers “now have gear far beyond their knowledge base,” New Age can provide retailers with in-person or Web-based training and tool sets to better educate their customers, whether they’re shopping online or within a consultative floor environment, Towns said.

Perhaps the most fundamental service that New Age can provide its customers is cost management. “Retailers are cautious about how much inventory to carry because pricing and technology changes so quickly,” Towns noted. But New Age’s “hyper-intensive throughput,” grounded in solid forecasting and supply chain management, can help “take the heat out of inventory.”

“We’re used to price compression and short life cycles in the PC business,” added New Age’s president Adam Carroll.

Conversely, Carroll continued, “We also understand vendors, and how they want their products positioned. We present their products to the proper channels and retail partners, and can work with them to handle returns and re-manufactured goods.”

New Age is currently partnered with Canon, Epson, HP, Lexmark and Panasonic, among others, and is looking to expand its vendor base. Meanwhile, kudos from retail companies like Conn’s, which recently named the distributor its 2004 Vendor of the Year, validate its approach to market.