Euro PC giant renews UK assault by launching its own retail outlets

Europe’s largest computer manufacturer, Vobis, is launching a new year attack on UK computer retailers by opening its own chain of stores.

The move, supported by television advertising next year, will mean the manufacturer and retailer will be in direct competition with Dixons – the electrical chain with which it had an exclusive sales agreement until August (MW September 8).

A spokesman for Vobis says it plans to open 20 stores in January, and increase its in-store departments in electrical retailers Homepower and Powerstore from 56 to 200.

Vobis struck a deal with Powerstore Trading in August as a second attempt to launch into the UK’s PC market, which is worth about 2bn a year. Its previous attempt through Dixons failed, leading Vobis to terminate its contract. The company says it did not want to be used as Dixons’ lowest-price computer in a battle with Escom.

Vobis stores will stock rival products. It has been in talks with printer manufacturers Hewlett-Packard and Canon and is negotiating with two unnamed global PC manufacturers.

Vobis is Germany’s largest computer company – it posted sales in 1994 of more than 1bn. It has recently appointed Manchester-based The Agency to handle its above and below-the-line account.

Vobis has spent 1.5m above the line this month in preparation for its TV campaign.

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