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JB Hi-Fi expands small-format store concept beyond the airport

Electronics leader JB Hi-Fi has joined the small-store bandwagon, launching a smaller, more convenience-centred store in Southgate, Melbourne, on Tuesday.

The company’s first ‘Express’ store is 68sqm and holds a more selected range of products. 

JB Hi-Fi chief executive Richard Murray said the success of its small-format airport stores proved the model, and directly led to the launch of its first standalone small-format stores. 

“At just over 68sqm, JB Hi-Fi Express features a specifically selected range that is focused on the needs of more mobile consumers,” Murray said.

“With selected ranges of mobile phones and accessories, headphones and portable audio, mobile computing and supporting IT products along with wearable fitness and smartwatches, the product range caters for smaller cash and carry, and impulse purchases.”

Murray said that the smaller footprint of the store gave the team an opportunity to further test and learn, which could see similar CBD locations crop up. 

Earlier this year, Murray told Inside Retail that the key takeaway from its Sydney Airport stores was that the JB Hi-Fi formula works just as well shrunken down. 

“We can run a 75sqm store and make money. [That is] an incredibly small footprint store relative to our normal stores,” Murray said. 

“Obviously for us that is interesting, because if you make a 75sqm store work, and a 1200sqm store work, what are the options in between?”

JB Hi-Fi is far from the first retailer to launch a smaller, more convenient store offering, with ColesWoolworthsIkeaIGAHarris Scarfe and 7-Eleven launching their own versions of smaller, more focused offerings, and the returning Toys ‘R’ Us building small-format retail into its comeback strategy. 

According to University of Tasmania lecturer Dr Louise Grimmer and Queensland University of Technology associate professor Gary Mortimer, smaller stores allow retailers to be more nimble, and can provide shoppers with more convenience and accessibility

“Micro retailers have less inventory and so they are able to turn stock over, replenish and refresh products at a faster pace than their larger rivals,” Grimmer and Mortimer wrote. 

“The promise of new items arriving in store at shorter intervals and the lure of ‘newness’ are all very attractive prospects for shoppers.”

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