Canton, Mass. — Despite some rough seas, Tweeter Home Entertainment Group remains the king of the A/V specialty chains.
Founded by audio enthusiast Sandy Bloomberg, the company reached critical mass during the tenure of former chief executive Jeff Stone, who cobbled together a dozen smaller A/V specialists into one operation.
Taking Tweeter to the next level is one-time CFO and Bryn Mawr Stereo veteran Joe McGuire, who succeeded Stone as president/CEO. His strategy going forward: to move the company away from a traditional grab-and-go retail model in favor of a labor-driven, custom installation-focused business.
To that end, the company has begun to refine and roll out a new prototype showroom based on an innovative concept store that opened in Las Vegas during the 2005 International CES. The prototypes represent a radical departure from Tweeter's standard retail box and feature a concierge desk, functional vignettes, a design center and other interactive elements to help demonstrate “whole-home solutions,” which is company's new mantra.
Tweeter is currently operating three concept stores and three lab stores with modified operating models. The former, in Las Vegas, Tysons Corner, Va., and Mission Viejo, Calif., are delivering improved margins, twice the company average in labor and remote-and-control revenue, and a “nice lift in loudspeakers,” said Judy Quye, retail sales and operations senior VP.
The latter — existing locations in Oakbrook, Ill., Burlington, Mass., and Tampa, Fla. — feature select elements from the prototypes and serve as the template for rolling renovations as the national A/V specialty chain upgrades its store base.
While it's too early to gauge the results of the remodels, McGuire has also been busy shutting underperforming stores and aggressively slashing costs.
There's a lot riding on the results. As Tweeter VP Frank Roshinski observed, “We're the last survivor of a dying breed.”