The Mercury Group is taking mobile concepts from strength to strength, expanding its retail operations and launching its fourth Laptop Land outlet in Melbourne.
The move into the Victorian retail market is somewhat belated. Melbourne has long been the object of Mercury's expansion plans, but the reseller has held back on launching retail operations due to ongoing concerns with wholesales tax collection in the State. The introduction of the GST has created a much more level playing field, according to Mercury Group managing director Derek Merdith.
"We always want to open in Melbourne and it was the logical spot after Sydney, but the issue was dealers cheating on their sales tax."
Companies dealing at corporate level have generally played by the rules but it has been very easy for retail businesses to cheat on sales tax, he said.
The Melbourne store now joins Laptop Land shops in Sydney, Adelaide and Brisbane and is backed by the Mercury Group's existing service centre. It will function as a showcase for emerging mobile, remote and wireless technologies with the notebook as the core unit.
Amidst the notebook sales slump, it may seem an unlikely time to be opening a store. But the move is consistent with the company's long-term strategy, according to Merdith.
"If we were a small player in the market, then yes, this would be one of the worst times to open a store," he said. "But we have a fairly long-term vision so to slow down the plan to open in Melbourne because of what is really a cyclical downturn is, I think, short sighted."
Photograph: Mercury Group managing director Derek Merdith.