Retailers & Distributors

SoftBank Gobbles Brightstar

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Following the acquisition of an 80% stake in US carrier Sprint Japan's SoftBank shells out $1.26 billion for 57% of Brightstar, the mobile distributor handling the SoftBank trade-in and phone buyback programs.

SoftbankOnce a small mobile device trader operating mainly in S. American countries, Miami-based Brightstar currently operates in 50 countries. It has boasts pre-tax revenues worth over $7 billion for the fiscal year ending June 2013, and counts Motorola, BlackBerry, Apple, HTC, LG and Samsung as customers.

"Brightstar has been a model of innovation, transforming from a regional wireless distributor into the world's leading provider of services to the wireless industry and we are excited about what that will mean for the SoftBank Group," CEO Masayoshi Son says.

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Apple Recruits Burberry CEO

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Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts joins Apple, only not as head of retail-- while that particular position remains vacant, Ahrendts gets a newly minted spot in the Apple hierarchy as senior VP of retail and online stores.

Angela AhrendtsFrom Q2 2013 Ahrendts will oversee the direction, expansion and operations of brick-and-mortar and online retail operations, parly filling the position John Browett held for all of 6 months before his very prominent firing.

“I have wanted one person to lead both of these teams for some time,” a leaked Tim Cook memo reads. “because I believe it will better serve our customers, but I had never met anyone whom I felt confident could lead both until I met Angela.”

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Dixons Opens "Store of the Future"

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Dixons opens the first "store[s] of the future" at the Bluewater shopping centre, Kent-- a Currys PC World branch featuring a number of new store design concepts aimed at female and younger customers.

Dixons storeReportedly the result of in-depth customer research and feedback, Dixons describes the new store as the first "urban toy shops." Thus the design in question is meant to be "more feminine" and attractive, with greater emphasis on "an engaging and interactive in-store experience."

Such emphasis seen through a number of sit and play areas (where customers can check products out or receive advice from shop staff), a Knowhow/Showhow area for the hosting of one-on-one or group tutorials, and a flexible store design replete with wheeled furniture and movable wall fixtures.

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Media-Saturn Debuts New Store Format

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Gazeta.pl reports Media-Saturn just opened the first of a new store format at Galeria Katowice, Poland-- Saturn Connect, a store dedicated mainly to mobile devices and solutions.

Media SaturnThe Saturn Connect store has an area of around 200 square metres and sells laptops, tablets, cameras, consoles, games, portable music players and activity trackers as well as smartphones and accessories.

According to the retailer the format is a "response to consumer interest... particularly in the growing mobile device category."

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Retail Employees Sue Apple

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Apple finds itself facing a class action suit from its retail workers-- a pair of Apple Store employees claim they lost up to $1500 in unpaid overtime yearly due to too frequent bag searches.

AppleAccording to former employees Amanda Frlekin and Dean Pelle (who worked in New York and Los Angeles stores respectively) Apple demands bag searches whenever a worker leaves the premises on lunch hours and at the end of the day. Supposedly an anti-theft measure, the “personal package and bag search” policy apparently demands 5-10 minutes of "off-the-clock" daily waiting, adding up up to $1500 a year in unpaid overtime (Apple pays $18.75 an hour).

Such a sum might not sound like much when one takes the profits Apple makes into consideration-- but since bag searches are a company-wide procedure Apple faces a potential liability worth $45 million at the face of its 30000 retail workers spread across the globe.

Apple does not provide comment on the lawsuit as yet.

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