By Martin Vedris

SYDNEY: Optima ICM Limited, which acquired electronics and imaging retailer Digital City from the beleaguered retailer’s administrators, aims to use a franchise model to grow this new retail side of the publicly listed IT business and established buying group.

Retail is not a new concept for Optima ICM, which ICM comprises a PC manufacturing division called Optima Technology Solutions and also the established 3C Shop buying group with 105 members and 60 independently owned IT retail outlets. The 3C members receive finance, product procurement and marketing support from the 3C Buying Group. The ‘3C’s’ are computer, consumer electronics and communication.

The Optima ICM chairman and managing director, Cornel Ung, said that the acquisition provides benefits for the existing 3C Shop buying group members as well as giving Optima ICM a metropolitan retail presence.

“Optima have been in the IT industry for about 19 years and we have all the relationships there so we can help Digital City to source our computer, consumer electronics and communication products,” said Ung.

“And for our 3C Shop members, they can access the Digital City product categories, such as cameras and photo printing. So there is a benefit to both business models.”

Optima ICM plans to expand the flagship store in Sydney and open further Digital City stores and roll out the existing Digital City franchise model and support infrastructure in remaining capital cities. The flagship store will support the franchisees in each state. Ung believes this interwoven network of stores will contribute to increased profitability for the group for years to come.

“We are very excited about this acquisition as it represents a major milestone for Optima ICM to increase our existing business to a new profit level with multiple growth engines,” said Mr Ung.

By having a new direct retail presence in metropolitan regions with an expanded multi-branded product portfolio, the Digital City business will complement the 3C Shop buying group business in regional areas and also benefit the PC manufacturing arm of the Optima Technology Solution business.

“The strong synergy between each portfolio of business will provide more choice, better value and services to Optima’s existing consumer and SMB.”

The main point of difference that Ung sees for Digital City retail outlets, compared to existing consumer electronics and IT stores is in providing more than the equipment but drawing on its networking expertise to provide total equipment and networking solutions.

“Being a PC manufacturer we have experience in servicing the SME market with networking and integration solutions. So we can assist Digital City to service the SME market in the CBD areas and also other SME markets within the store’s locations,” Ung said.

“So if a customer is asking for more than a piece of equipment but they are looking for a solution, then we can offer them solutions for the SME level or for digital home product solutions as well.

“The product categories will include cameras, photo imaging, computers, consumer electronics and communications. We will also leverage Optima’s technical expertise to provide Digital City customers with advice on creating an integrated digital home solution and will offer in-home installation services.”