JB Hi-Fi buys out Betta store, taking on Sony Centre

Exclusive by Patrick Avenell

SYDNEY, NSW: The BSR Group has lost another store from its cache, with JB Hi-Fi this afternoon confirming it has purchased the Betta Electrical store at World Square in Sydney’s CBD.

Located at 684 George Street, the store is right next to a Bing Lee store and a Sony Centre, meaning this addition to JB stable is set to further push the downtown Sydney area’s credentials as a place to shop for electrical goods. It will be JB Hi-Fi’s third full size retail outlet in the Sydney CBD, although the other two stores are located much further north, towards the city’s financial district.

In an interview with JB Hi-Fi CEO Richard Uechtritz, we asked what caused the company to make this purchase.

“[It’s] the right space for a JB store,” he said. “We have two shops in Sydney, we feel we can be represented in that southern part of the Sydney CBD – as simple as that: right space, right location, good JB market.”

So is the start of a new trend, with JB Hi-Fi picking up stores from other groups as they falter?

“We’re always happy to talk to anyone. Usually it’s a situation where probably the stores aren’t big enough, but if they’ve got the right size and the right location, we’re certainly happy to talk to any smaller operator that feels he’s had enough.”

With this new store sitting very close to the premium Sony Centre and the more economical Bing Lee CBD outlet, questions will be raised about the viability of a new JB Hi-Fi store. We asked Uechtritz if this was a case of overcrowding, or creating a consumer electronics retail hub.

“There are Bing Lees, Harvey Normans, JBs, Good Guys side by side across the country. I don’t think it’s anything different in this case, I think when you have a like competitor nearby, it makes the shopping for that particular category more of a destinational shopping area, as homemaker centres have proved.

“People like to go and shop one against the other unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on whose side you’re looking at.”

Uechtritz confirmed that some staff from the Betta store, including the family of the former owner, would have the opportunity to continue working at the new JB incarnation, though all such details are yet to be finalised.

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