Sony Puerto Rico is looking to expand its local footprint, and generate opportunities for island entrepreneurs in the process, by franchising its Sony Style retail operation to open three new stores starting late 2012, News is my Business has learned.
While franchising would be a first in Puerto Rico, the company has already adopted the concept in other parts of the world, including Ecuador last year, said Ricardo Rivera, vice president of Sony Puerto Rico.
“So far, the plans are very preliminary, but there is a movement on a global scale by Sony to open our own stores under the Sony Store flagship name, as well as franchising it to third parties,” he said.
Although no agreements have yet been signed Sony is looking to franchise its Sony Style store concept in at least three towns, namely Barceloneta, Hatillo and somewhere in the central region, possibly Barranquitas, Rivera said. If achieved, the new locations would push Sony’s local retail presence to six stores and a kiosk.
“Right now, we have three full-sized stores, in Plaza las Américas, Catalinas mall in Caguas and the Mayagüez mall, along with a kiosk at Plaza del Caribe in Ponce,” said Rivera.
Each franchised store entails an investment of between $300,000 and $500,000 to cover the full inventory that Sony requires be kept in stock and should be about 2,000 square feet, Rivera said.
“The idea is to be able to expand our reach, while being efficient. In this case, the franchisee will be a person who is interested in having an electronic goods retail location. The first prospects are those who have been doing business with Sony for many years,” he said. Sony established itself in Puerto Rico in October 1987.
“We’ve been here nearly 24 years and the Sony Stores are a very important part of our operation, accounting for a significant percentage of our distribution islandwide,” he said. “The idea is to deliver our brand to our consumer in the Sony Style way. We just don’t want to be a product that competes side-by-side with another box or price.”
Full customer experience
Sony Style stores feature a layout that presents the company’s latest devices — televisions, computers, audio system and home entertainment centers — in a way that allows customers to touch, listen and experience them before deciding to make a purchase.
Last week, the company used its Plaza las Américas location as the backdrop to announce the availability of two additions to its VAIO Series C and S lineups. The high-powered, and very colorful, machines were on display during a news conference at the store.
Crafted from a special light-catching material, the VAIO C Series laptops appear to glow with energy, in their neon green, red and orange shells. Also available in bolt black, lightning white, and thunder blue, the C Series packs the latest second generation Intel Core processor, and primed to deliver performance with enhanced visual proficiency.
“In Sony Puerto Rico, we are committed to offering customers a unique and individual entertainment experience,” Rivera said. “The VAIO C Series will offer Puerto Ricans users new ways to enjoy their laptops through the most advanced technology, which combines tools and entertainment in a new and improved design.”
Other key features of the C Series laptops are: wireless Intel display that makes it simple to transfer content to a compatible HD television set; integrated high-definition webcam; and direct access buttons that enable users to access functions with a single touch.
Meanwhile, the S Series is a truly portable computer that packs performance in a thin 13.3-inch structure. The new VAIO S Series is capable of handling heavy applications through its second-generation Intel Core i5 processor. With a simple design, the S Series laptop is completely flat, leaving behind the traditional large batteries and unnecessary outbound ports, achieving a weight of only 3.7 pounds, according to Sony’s specifications.
“The S Series will offer executives and students who need to work fast, a portable high-performance notebook,” Rivera noted.