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RETAILING BRIEFS - Twice

RETAILING BRIEFS

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Michael Graves Targets Personal Electronics
Minneapolis - Target will begin rolling out a collection of Philips-made phones, portable CD players and clock radios next week under the Michael Graves brand. The upscale designer broke the channel barrier last year by developing a line of housewares for the discount chain and is now extending his reach into electronics. According to divisional merchandise manager Steve Eastman, products include analog and 900MHz cordless phones, both with and without answering machines, and personal CD players with egg-shaped earbud storage pouches attached. Advertising begins mid-September.

Lowe's, Whirlpool Expand Appliance Alliance
Wilkesboro, N.C. - Lowe's is stepping up its majap program with Whirlpool. According to the home improvement chain, the "enhanced business relationship" includes a deeper assortment; new Lowe's-exclusive models; the systemwide introduction of top-of-the-line KitchenAid products; new Roper-branded models; and exclusive distribution of Whirlpool air purifiers and a new water heater line within the home center channel. The agreement is seen as a response to The Home Depot's aggressive expansion of its GE and Maytag offerings this summer, and Circuit City's exit from majaps.

MARTA Members Offered Online Entrée Via 247
Scottsdale, Ariz. - MARTA has forged an agreement with 247Showroom.com that will allow member dealers to launch their own e-commerce sites in time for the fourth-quarter holiday selling season. According to executive director Warren Mann, the sites will be "content-rich," showing the features, advantages and benefits of each product in the dealers' assortment. Charles Palko, president of 247Showroom.com, describes his operation as a full-scale e-commerce company focused on turning regional appliance, electronics and furniture retailers into successful click & mortar businesses.

800.COM Gets CE Kudos
Portland, Ore. - 800.COM was ranked the No. 1 b-to-c electronics site in Forrester Research's first-ever PowerRankings for the category, besting Amazon, Buy.com and Egghead, which placed second, third and fourth, respectively. The rankings are based on consumer surveys and shopping tests that gauge customer service, ease of transactions and usability. 800, which recently pulled a planned IPO, is presently participating in an online back-to-school promotion with Pizza Hut and AOL in which it is the sole CE cyberstore.

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