WH Smith 'electrical' to challenge Dixons

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The Independent Online

WH Smith is set to challenge Dixons, the electrical retailer, to its longestablished dominance of electrical sales on the high street.

The newsagent has hired brand consultant Marketplace, and is considering selling a wide range of electrical goods from its 530 UK high-street stores. The company is already trying out the plan in selected locations. Its products include DVD players and flat- screen televisions.

"The customer research has shown there is a demand for WH Smith to offer these products. There is a demand for the hardware," said a WH Smith spokeswoman. The group, whose core sales are books, newspapers and magazines, has unveiled "Electronics Zones" in 25 of its stores.

The zones bring together the retailer's mobile phone, consumer technology and home entertainment lines in one area and are divided into two sections.

The first section contains "at home" equipment, such as DVD players, and the section division is called "on the go" and includes products such as mini disc players. "It is complementary to the entertainment that we already have on offer," the WH Smith spokeswoman added.

The news comes as food retailers Tesco and Asda are moving into the computer games market and are looking to increase sales in their electrical products.

Asda already sells products such as widescreen TVs and videos, and Tesco sells big-ticket goods such as computers, cookers and sun-beds.

Customers are now coming to Tesco to buy electrical goods where traditionally they would have gone to either Dixons or Currys," a Tesco spokesman said.

Dixons, the company which owns PC World, Currys and The Link, said: "We welcome competition because it encourages customers to shop around and we offer the best value for money."

A spokesman for the group added: "We are very satisfied with the way the business is going."

The statement comes just days after research group Gartner Dataquest released market figures showing sales of personal computers in Britain have fallen for the first time in more than 20 years.

Sales for the three months to July were down 7.3 per cent compared to the same quarter in 2000.

One leading analyst said that "the sector has always been price-competitive" adding also that "it is not going to change".

"I do not think it is the easiest area for newcomers to be in," he said.