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Big Box Retailers Enter Upscale CE Sector

Twice magazine reports that the two chains that bring fear and loathing to regional and smaller independent consumer electronics (CE) retailers � Best Buy and Wal-Mart � are now focusing in on the profitable, upscale part of the CE industry as never before.

Best Buy confirmed that it will take its customer-centric store format to all of its stores. The chain's brand-name stores, along with Magnolia Audio Video, posted a 14 percent increase in revenue during its last quarter. And Best Buy plans to add 200 Magnolia Home Theater in-store shops for a total of 300 by the end of this fiscal year.

As for Wal-Mart, there is a test store in Plano, Texas, which is clearly targeting upscale CE products. There is a department staff that is trained in CE, a more sophisticated ambiance and HDTVs from the likes of Hitachi, Panasonic and Sony. While this is currently a new concept store, if successful Wal-Mart will quickly begin to roll them out in other locations.

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