German computer company Escom is taking on Dixons in the high street with 231 own-brand computer stores.
Executives at Escom, which manufacturers and retails computer hardware, have confirmed this week that it will buy 231 former Rumbelows stores from Thorn EMI. The move will bring an instant tenfold boost in Escom’s UK retail presence. Escom has opened only 23 high street stores since it launched in the UK in February 1993.
Director of Escom UK and Holland, Bernard van Tienen, has masterminded the operation and is now reviewing the group’s marketing strategy. The shops will be branded Escom, and will sell own-brand computer goods. The group needs to build a high-profile consumer awareness campaign before the shops open later this year.
Van Tienen said all forms of media advertising, including TV work, were under consideration. “We will have a strategy within two weeks,” he says.
Analysts are sceptical. Steve Brazier, senior analyst with computer research group Dataquest, says the trend is towards out-of-town rather than high street stores for computer shops. “The killing question is whether people will buy computers in town centres,” he says. “Dixons, with its PC World and Currys stores is moving out of the high street.”
The 2,900 Rumbelows employees are being invited to reapply for their jobs at Escom.
Escom is also in talks with the Office World chain and intends to open Escom shops within 50 Office World stores by the end of the year.