New chapter begins for Dixons Carphone

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Retail giant officially launches in a move it says ‘creates an organisation for the future’

Dixons Carphone opened its doors for the first time as a single company this month – kicking off a ‘new generation’ of electronics retail.

The JV, which was first announced back in May, sees the creation of Europe’s biggest electronics retailer, with combined revenues totalling more than £10 billion – employing 43,000 staff (UK and Europe).

Seven Curry’s / PC World stores were re-badged to reflect both brands ahead of the new company being listed on the stock exchange. 23 more stores will be co-branded by the end of the year, with the entire Curry’s PC World estate being re-badged next year.

Carphone Warehouse has around 800 stores in the UK, whilst Dixons (Curry’s, PC World) has around 500 – although there are plans to cut this to around 360 in 2015.

“Its a day of change”, remarked deputy group chief executive Andrew Harrison (pictured left) discussing the £3.8 billion JV with Mobile News, as around a hundred journalists descended on the opening of its co-branded store August 7.

Harrison, who is in his 20th year at Carphone Warehouse told Mobile News: “It’s an amazing day and it’s really brought it all home by standing in a physical manifestation of it rather than powerpoint slides. In the future I doubt you’ll be able to imagine the two markets as ever being separate. You’re not going to be able to pull them apart.”

Joining him at the opening was former Dixons CEO now Dixons Carphone CEO Sebastian James (pictured right) who described the occasion as a defining moment in retail history.

He also revealed Curry’s and PC World websites receive around 12.5 million searches for mobile phones every year – highlighting the potential sales opportunities as a joint force.

“We’re creating an organisation for the future where the products are just the beginning,” said James to Mobile News. “We’re off to a flying start with the opening of our first seven combined shops and customers using Curry’s, PC World and Carphone Warehouse websites will be guided to the right place to buy from the whole range that we have to offer together – from a toaster to the latest smartphone.”

Internet of things
One of the key listed drivers for the merger – aside from the combined saving estimated to hit £80 million by 2018, is the continued growth in connected devices – often described as ‘internet of things’.

Harrison reeled off statistics from CISCO Internet Business Solutions Group (IBSG) around the market – further backing up the decision. CISCO estimates 50 billion devices will be connected in some capacity (WiFi, SIM) by next year, rising to 50 billion by 2020.

The Oxford Street store we visited, was essentially two retailers under a single roof, with each brand positioned into its own separate space with staff wearing their respected uniforms.

The first glimpses of the focus on connected devices was on display (down the middle) which included smartphone controlled connected smoke detectors, lights, locks, and even golf gloves and tennis rackets. (Unfortunately no demonstrations of these products were given or offered during our visit.

Harrison added whilst customers now typically have a data package added to their mobile he says Carphone will begin offering complete sharer packages – such as 100GB packages for families to use across a multitude of connected assets ranging from mobile phones to connected vehicles.

“Today, we’ve got tennis rackets and golf clubs, all sorts of things and we’re on the basis that anything that can form a connection will have a connection in future.

“We will have greater conversations on data, providing packages for them and their family for them to use it on whatever they want, whether it’s at car your GoPro, your laptop, your tablet or lots of other things that we haven’t even invented yet.

Harrison was also keen to note that in addition to actual physical products, after care services (IT and connectivity), will play a key role in the firms evolution.

Carphone already provides after sales services such as Geek Squad, to help customers use their device, but also provide technical assistance or repairs. PC World and Curry’s offer a range of chargeable aftercare service plans also through partner ‘Knowhow’, covering repairs, call out charges for a number of products, such as TV’s, satellite equipment, consoles, computer appliances, and music stations.

Harrison said he wants Dixons Carphone to establish a reputation and a perception as  the go-to for all things mobile and IT in the same way that the AA is for vehicles.

“We’d like to also be seen as the IT department for every small business and the total connectivity solution for every small business in the UK, whether you’re in consumer or business, this technology will continue to change the way we live and work.

“We want to be in the same sort of space as Homeserve and the AA but for your home connectivity and technology needs,” he said.

“It’s built on the combination of knowhow and Geek Squad, and we think we’ve got the best assets within that and thats going to be a very clear focus for us to drive that business.

“The more your home is going to be connected, the more any emergencies could become a disaster.

James concluded: “We will not only help customers to access the technology and the connectivity that is right for them, but also find the expertise and services that bring them to life. We’re opening a whole load of new stores and new activities and services and moving into new business areas.”

Full article in Mobile News issue 571 (August 26, 2014).

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