Based on the success of its convergence concept store in Sydney's Pitt Street Mall, Bing Lee will be opening two further stores by year's end.
The concept store, first opened in September last year, was the retailer's response to the booming digital lifestyle market and has since outperformed expectations according to its AV and PC merchandise manager, Phil Moujaes.
"The store is on the third floor of the mall so it's a difficult location, but that has not proved to be an issue," he said. "In the first 12 months of trading we are ahead of our sales budget."
Moujaes said the success of the store came down to its dedicated floor space and focus on the segment.
"The fact that we have a very large display of plasma LCDs, digital camera and IT products has been the strength of that shop," he said.
Staff trained on converged products and the growing market awareness of digital entertainment had also contributed.
While Bing Lee had decided to maintain a whitegoods presence in the concept store, the importance of the segment had declined over the year, Moujaes said.
"The strength of the shop has been the AV and IT products and we have scaled whitegoods back," he said.
Moujaes did not envision a time when Bing Lee would abandon its whitegoods business, but said digital convergence was changing the landscape of retail.
"Convergence is changing the way our industry is doing business," he said. "If you're not in first with those new products - plasma LCDs, digital imaging, wireless networking - you find that you miss out on some very good business."
While there were no plans to open further stores in the CBD, Moujaes said two suburban stores were due by the end of 2004.
The first, in Alexandria was due to open in mid-October and the second, in Rhodes, during the first week of December.
"We are taking some ideas from Pitt Street into those stores and are making some dedicated convergence areas," he said. "In the suburban stores white goods will remain about 50 per cent of the floor space."
In the coming months the retail chain's focus would be upon the opening of the two new stores and ensuring a good Christmas trade, of which converged technologies would play a major part, Moujaes said.