Retailers battled the titans - on the Net and in the streetsSome of the defining moments of the retail channel in 1999 were reported in Retail Solutions. These are a selection of what ARN considers to be the defining moments in the bricks-(and clicks)-and-mortar scene for 1999Another tax cheat in the big houseIn March, following the jailing of a Melbourne reseller for a $1.2 million sales tax fraud on February 9, the Australian Taxation Office and the Australian Federal Police completed a second conviction, this time for $900,000, that saw another Melbourne man behind bars. Kyriakos "Gary" Peripetsakis, 25, pleaded guilty and was sentenced by the Melbourne County Court to 16 months jail.
Directsoft to become Jack Of All Games
Entertainment software distributor Directsoft in April announced it will change its name to Jack Of All Games to reflect its newly formed relationship with the US-based company of the same name.
The move cemented what was already a significant foothold in local software distribution to retailers.
Merchants seek forbidden fruit
Major retailers in Australia in May were knocking down the doors at Apple trying to get into one of the most closely guarded channels in the business. However, the word from Apple was that despite wanting to maximise the penetration of its highly popular iMac, at that stage there were no plans to return to mass merchants.
Portables take MP3 to the masses
Computer components and peripherals manufacturer Creative Technologies in June led the charge towards mass adoption by consumers of the MP3 digital audio compression standard in a portable music playback device.
Gattari resigns from Harvey Norman
Also in June, one of Australian IT retailing's best-known executives resigned from the position he held for nine years. In describing his reasons for the decision, Tony Gattari, Harvey Norman's general manager, computers and communications, conceded he was "jaded" and "looking for a new challenge".
Gattari had overseen the growth of the retailer's booming computers and communications operations from $12 million in 1990 when he was first appointed to its current annual turnover of $520 million.eStore grabs a headstartWhen online retail startup eStore launched in March this year, it claimed that not being weighed down by a bricks-and-mortar shop legacy gave it the inside running in what would be a market with explosive growth. While still having some catching up to do on Harris Technology, eStore in July secured the jump on the many yet to enter this accelerating market.
Acer steps up to Harvey Norman plate
The scramble to fill a near $100 million cavity on Harvey Norman's shelves where Compaq used to be began in earnest in September with the retailer confirming it was in "final discussions" with Acer.
Acer was something of a prodigal son for the retailer, returning to the fray after a previous partnership between the two was severed nearly three years ago following a disagreement on strategies.
Strathfield targets handhelds
Also in September, The Strathfield Group Limited (SGL) made an aggressive bid to accelerate retail sales of handheld technologies by acquir- ing specialist retailer and software developer Eworld.
The deal gave Eworld the capital injection required to roll out its unique business model nationally.
Compaq flings open retail doors
Compaq's retail strategy became a reality in September with the opening of its first eight Compaq Connect stores in Melbourne and Brisbane.
Compaq insisted that, instead of competing with existing resellers, the Compaq Connect stores will refer its existing channel-serviced customers back to their channel partners.
Harris pursues market growth for new mastersNow under the wing of local retailing giant Coles Myer (CM), Harris Technology in August embarked on an expansion plan that saw it moving into larger enterprise accounts and opening two new stores before the end of the year.
HP's online store slides into channel sweet spotThree months into Hewlett-Packard Australia's online direct program, @ hp online, Rebekah O'Flaherty, the program's principal architect, was pro-moted to the regional role of e-business unit manager in an attempt to replicate the new channel throughout the Asia-Pacific region.ozbuy.com takes aim at Harris TechnologyAustralia's newest online computer superstore, ozbuy.com, began trading in the Australian marketplace in November. Michael Glezerson, the company's MD, said he would rather compare ozbuy.com to a high-end rather than a low-end player.
Also in November, Internet company LibertyOne launched uBid.com in an exclusive licensing arrangement with the US auction company to set up sites in Australia, New Zealand and the Asia-Pacific region.