Byte last Saturday blasted out a warning to Dixons and its PC World superstores by opening 46 concessions formerly occupied by Escom in Office World stores. With 11 stores already in place and plans to add several more by March 1997, the move sets up a battle royal between the pair.
Byte, a three-year-old wholly-owned division of the £400 million SCH Group, said it plans to have as many as 100 UK retail outlets by 1999. The new concessions span the country from Exeter to Glasgow. Most are retail parks at the edge of towns. The acquisition creates 220 new jobs.
Chris Herbert, an analyst at UK market researcher Romtec, said he was optimistic of Byte's success. "Certainly they're offering the most competition to Dixons," he said. "This fits in well with what they're trying to do. The concessions are obviously cheap and this gives them huge expansion. We see specialist retail as being the way forward and if you look at their financials they're doing very well, thank you. This is the right time to get second-time buyers."
However, Herbert warned that the retail path is strewn with pratfalls. "Escom grew too big, too quick. You have to maintain service and the main problem is management: getting staff to know what they're talking about when people walk into the store."
Byte can be contacted by telephone on 0121-766 7000.