Virgin Entertainment Group is replacing a trio of V Shops with a smaller version of the Megastore brand.
Three existing V Shops in Brixton, Hounslow and Notting Hill will be transformed into Virgin Megastore Xpress stores over the coming weeks, with ranges specifically tailored to meet local demand. Another two V Shop stores are also being converted into new Virgin Gamestores selling both software and hardware, starting with Reading this Thursday and Colchester following shortly afterwards.
"What we know is Virgin Megastores does carry a lot of weight with customers who think it stands for having wide ranges of product and being good value for money," says Virgin Retail UK managing director Andy Randall. "We've been really thinking how we can leverage that into smaller stores, so Xpress is a way of doing that."
Although all five stores being converted are currently V Shop outlets, Randall says it is "too early" to conclude that the entire V Shop chain will eventually be converted into either Xpress or Gamestores outlets. Future plans will depend on the success of the trials, he notes.
The group's CEO Simon Wright believes the new Xpress concept further opens up the possibility of going into catchment areas that would otherwise be too small for Megastores.
One "crucial" element of the Xpress stores is the fact each outlet's ranges can be adapted to suit local demand and reflect retail competition in the area, he notes; the Brixton and Hounslow stores will have ranges slanted towards R&B, garage and hip hop, while the Notting Hill store will have more DVD titles, he says.
Wright suggests the new Xpress stores offer a distinctive point of difference to the sister V Shop brand as the new concept has "much more depth of range, relatively speaking". "V Shop has been excellent communicating the Virgin Mobile range," he says. "V Shop can be the leading entertainment retail shop in a particular market, but when we need to communicate more authority on range and more depth on range, we see using the Virgin Megastore brand is more advantageous."