FOUR of the five Big Byte computer outlets will be closed by the end of this month.
The Christchurch store is already shuttered.
At the time of writing, the Auckland branch, located in Botany town centre, is holding a grand closing-down sale with heavily reduced prices. Similar closing-down sales are also underway at Palmerston North and Dunedin.
The Wellington store will remain open.
First launched in 2001 as part of Eric Watson’s Pacific Retail Group, which also includes the Noel Lee-mings and Bond & Bond chains, Big Byte stores operated as specialist one-stop shops for a wide range of computer-related products. They mainly catered for both consumers and small business customers.
Last year Pacific Retail was bought by Gresham Equity. It was renamed as the Noel Leeming Group and a new management team was installed.
Although company executives did not return our calls by press time, Reseller News understands the closures are part of a deliberate strategy.
A source within the Noel Leeming Group said the Big Byte concept made good business sense at the time, but convergence between computer and home entertainment technologies means they are no longer relevant.
In particular, consumers now expect to buy products such as digital cameras, cellphones and media centre PCs in general electrical appliance stores.
Moreover, appliance stores are now more comfortable selling these products.
The Noel Leeming Group is New Zealand’s leading consumer appliance and electrical retailer. In 2004 the company had a 26% share of the market and a turnover of more than $475 million.
Currently the Noel Leeming Group is in the process of repositioning its Bond & Bond chain with a new identity and more focus on technology products. New stores are expected to open later this year.