JB PC Replaces JB Hi Fi
0Overall Score

JB Hi Fi is set to cut back on Hi Fi systems and speakers in favour of fast moving PC gear. They are also set to open 13 new stores.

JB Hi-Fi is set to take Harvey Norman head on in the PC market where for many years the mass retailer has dominated. The move could hurt Hi Fi distributors and vendors as JB HiFi shift from slow moving Hi Fi gear to fast moving PC gear.

JB Hi Fi Managing director Richard Uechtritz says that just under half of its 73 stores will be stocking computers by Christmas.

The home entertainment group wil not only be taking on the likes of Harvey Norman Holdings Ltd, which has around a 30 per cent share of the computer market, but specialist outlets like Office Works.

JB Hi-Fi chief executive Richard Uechtritz believes computers will be making “meaningful” contributions to sales and earnings this year.

“We’ve hardly scratched the surface,” Mr Uechtritz said after Monday’s annual general meeting.

“We want to become a major player in computers and most of the stores by June next year will be carrying home computers.”

Mr Uechtritz said although the current climate was tough for retailers, consumers tended to cut down in other areas such as eating out before they stopped buying the latest hi-tech gadgets.

“When it comes time for households to decide what to cut back on, usually it’s not the new plasma TV, new iPod or new game console,” he said.

Mr Uechtritz said Christmas was shaping up as a strong period, despite expectations of another interest rate rise next month.

“Christmas is an important period and we will execute well,” he said.

“Even if there is another interest rate rise I don’t think it will stop people from spending.

“There’s security of jobs, the stock exchange is going well, and real estate is not doing too badly.”

Chairman James King told the meeting that JB Hi-Fi, which posted a 32.5 per cent lift in 2005/06 net profit to $25.8 million, planned to open 10 to 12 new stores each year.

“One of the key planks of our growth strategy has been geographic expansion and we are pleased to see that the JB Hi-Fi brand and offering continues to travel well outside our roots in Melbourne,” Mr King said.

JB Hi-Fi shares were up two cents to $5.61 at 1529 AEST.