One of South Australia's largest computer stores has undergone a change of identity. Adelaide's only ComputerLand store has disappeared: its owners have ditched the ComputerLand franchise and name in favour of an alliance with Australia's largest Apple dealer, Choice Connections.
However, Choice Connections' Adelaide co-owner and manager, David Sherrah, says it's business as usual for the store. "We've just changed our name. There'll be no changes in the staff or the product line," he said. "[This way] we'll have the ability to grow more quickly over time. I didn't see a long-term future in being associated with ComputerLand. It was in a holding pattern. There was no growth in the chain. A franchise is about getting bigger and stronger and utilising the strength of head office.
"I saw a lot more opportunity for us being part of a large group like Choice Connections, which has been going for a number of years. It has a strong Apple bias whereas we were the only Apple store in the ComputerLand group," Sherrah said. He confirms that Melbourne-based Choice Connections has taken a majority shareholding in the Adelaide store.
Choice's sales and marketing director, Michael Smart, says the company recognises Adelaide as a special market. "We made a decision about the Adelaide market that, unless we had good people or a good opportunity in Adelaide, there was no point in coming across from the eastern states. It wouldn't have worked," he said.
Smart said that as well as investing additional financial and management systems resources in the Adelaide store, Choice Connections was supporting it with a high level of national marketing and infrastructure. For example, Choice Connections' nationally promoted 131417 telephone number directs all calls from South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory to the Adelaide officeAccording to Smart, Choice Connections is on track for a 30 per cent growth rate this year and employs 172 people at 11 stores throughout Australia: five in Melbourne, three in Sydney, two in Queensland and one in Adelaide.
The Adelaide ComputerLand store began operation in August 1994, founded by 11 people who had recently left Apple dealer Random Access. Choice Connections was formed in the same month when two Melbourne computer groups, Connecting Point and Choice Systems, merged to form the $50 million-a-year company employing 96 people.