Thu | Nov 23, 2017

Three RadioShacks for Jamaica by 2018

Published:Wednesday | July 26, 2017 | 12:00 AMNeville Graham
In this May 2012 Gleaner photo, Dennis Harris, the head of Unicomer Jamaica/Courts Jamaica, shows off household items on sale in a Courts store in Kingston. Unicomer will be setting up a chain of Radio Shack electronic shops in Jamaica.

By Friday, the first of at least three RadioShack stores in Jamaica will open in Mandeville.

The electronics stores will be operator by Unicomer Jamaica, the same company that manages the Courts furniture chain, Ashley Home Store and Lucky Dollar.

Unicomer Jamaica Managing Director Dennis Harris is not disclosing the investment to be made in the RadioShack operation.

The Mandeville store will operate in 450 square feet of store space, but Harris says the small size of that operation belies big plans for the operation.

"We are putting down a few million well," he said, without disclosing the actual spend, "but the Mandeville store is small compared to others that we'll be doing," Harris told Gleaner Business.

The next two stores will be in Kingston and Montego Bay.

Harris told Gleaner Business that the Unicomer Group recently opened six similar RadioShack stores in Trinidad, Barbados and Guyana. He says this is part of a deliberate strategy to take advantage of an opening in the regional technology and appliances market.

"We've done our studies in getting a perspective for the brand and our view is that the brand has equity not only in Jamaica, but we've looked at it across the Caribbean as a group and we feel that there is sufficient brand equity in RadioShack. We can create something special in the market," Harris opined.

In April 2015, Unicomer's parent company, Regal Forest Holdings, acquired the brand and franchising rights, intellectual property, and existing contracts for RadioShack stores in Central America, South America, and the Caribbean.

Currently, Unicomer owns and operates 75 RadioShack stores in CuraÁao, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Trinidad, Barbados and Guyana.

Additionally, Unicomer through its Global Franchise Unit, manages business relations with authorised RadioShack franchises, that collectively operate 171 licensed franchised stores in Antigua, Costa Rica, Haiti, Paraguay and Peru, according to a release from the company.

 

Separate chain

 

RadioShack Jamaica will be managed as a separate chain, but will leverage the scale and connections of the Unicomer Jamaica operations, Harris said.

"The way we've done this sort of business is that it stands alone on its own, but the overall infrastructure of the Unicomer business in Jamaica provides the necessary support," Harris said

He is downplaying suggestions that similarities in RadioShack's catalogue may interfere with the business and profitability of Courts, which trades in appliances and electronics, as well as furniture. Harris is insisting that there is room for both brands to operate.

"The crossover of products between the two is going to be limited. This is about 40 per cent. It means that the other 60 per cent is going to be dedicated RadioShack products," he said.

RadioShack will stock electronics such as speakers and transmitters, notebook computers, tablets, power banks, headphones, Android boxes and fitness trackers.

"We're excited about it and we feel that it will add to our portfolio of products that we carry, giving us more novel products in the marketplace from a brand that is world-recognised. It was an easy decision for us," Harris said.

He acknowledged that RadioShack had failed in the US market, but countered that when Unicomer acquired Courts there had been a similar problem with that brand in the United Kingdom.

"In my time here, we've never done anything that has not worked. We've done the studies and looked at the possibilities, and we've decided that there is a niche out there for us to exploit," Harris said.

The Unicomer Group operates in 20 countries across Central American and the Caribbean.

neville.graham@gleanerjm.com