West Coast Hi-Fi Malaga store manager Glenn Tobin.
West Coast Hi-Fi Malaga proprietor Glenn Tobin. (Image from westcoasthifi.com.au)

A desire to give customers access to the full range of its retail products is driving Yamaha’s push into branded ‘Sound Centres’, according to general manager Simon Goldsworthy.

After a tumultuous 12 months that included Yamaha parting ways with major retailer JB Hi-Fi, the famous Japanese company is preparing for a new chapter in its consumer-facing operations, opening its first Sound Centre within the existing West Coast Hi-Fi outlet in Malaga, in northern Perth, Western Australia.

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A gala opening for the Yamaha Sound Centre will be held on Saturday 22 February 2014 and will include a visit from the local state MP Rita Saffioti and a performance by popular Australian singer and ‘Yamaha artist’ Gossling.

“We’re thrilled to be the destination to go to for the full Yamaha experience and look forward to providing a new level of customer service and injecting some excitement back into the shopping experience,” said West Coast Hi-Fi director Glen Tobin.

Described as an “important milestone” in the Yamaha Australia story, Goldsworthy said this new destination means Perth audiophiles can experience the full range in one place.

“Yamaha has an extensive range of products, both within its traditional categories as well new categories such has desktop audio and headphones.  With most retailers spoilt for choice and only wanting to stock a limited number of brands in each price point, not every model gets taken on and, therefore, does not get displayed,” explained Goldsworthy.

“So when customers call and ask where can they see and demo a certain model, it becomes difficult to find a store that has stock and has it set up to demo.  The Sound Centre concept gives us the ability to send all levels of consumer to a single store nearest them and know they will be able to see, hear and be shown all the features of the product.”

Brand concept stores have become very fashionable, especially in the digital space, since Apple pioneered its branded store concept in the mid-2000s. Whether it takes the form of a store-in-store concept, like Yamaha’s new centre; a standalone store, like Apple and Samsung; or kiosks like Sony and Acer; these dedicated outlets allow for consumers to be immersed in a collection of products and educated on their features by brand evangelists.

We asked Goldsworthy why he thought this trend was occurring:

“While I cannot speak for any other brands doing something similar, I can imagine that a sense of frustration by not having all products in one location, not being able to tell or show the story behind the brand or show customers the unique features of your products would be motivation enough as it was in Yamaha’s case,” he said.

Perth is expected to just be the start of a national rollout of Yamaha Sound Centres and Goldsworthy is currently in discussions with retailers on the East Coast to host the next batch of outlets. In total, Yamaha could have has many 10 Sound Centres by this time next year.

“We are currently in negotiations with a number of store owners in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne for our next stores,” he said. “The commitment is large for a single store so is not for everyone but our plan is to have one store in each major capital city by September and two in each of the bigger capital cities within 12 months.”