Intertel to launch own stores after Virgin split

IT retailer Intertel Electronics is to launch a new independent chain of stores in the UAE

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By  Andrew Seymour Published  May 3, 2009

IT retailer Intertel Electronics is to launch a new independent chain of stores in the UAE now that its partnership with Virgin Megastore has been brought to a halt.

Dubai-based Intertel had been licensed to operate Virgin Middle East’s IT, imaging and mobile departments, but that contract is being taken over by i2-CompuMe.

Intertel says the plan to go it alone is driven by its own motivation to develop a retail chain that it has total control over.

“We decided to end our partnership with Virgin in order to take our business one step further and launch our own standalone store, which will be fully owned and operated by Intertel. The new retail concept will launch in premium locations across the UAE,” explained Elie Karam, marketing manager at Intertel.

The first store is scheduled to open in Dubai Mall towards the end of the second quarter, with Karam claiming it will become the “future benchmark” in IT and lifestyle electronics.

Intertel, which is owned by privately-held investment firm Pragma Group Holding International, intends to unveil eight stores in Abu Dhabi and Dubai during the next three years. It has yet to confirm the name of the chain, but said it would not be Intertel or Smart, the brand it used when it operated inside Virgin.

Karam has promised consumers that they can expect to encounter different offerings to those in competing retail outlets. The company is lining up a number of exclusive deals with high-end digital lifestyle brands and is looking to bring a degree of focus to categories such as home-theatre, LCD panels and in-car solutions.

“Our new store will provide integrated technology solutions in a unique environment coupled with exceptional customer service through skilled and friendly consultants, enabling customers to enjoy the experience of shopping for electronics,” said Karam.

Karam declined to comment on how Intertel’s revenue expectations for the new stores compare with the business it had been doing with Virgin, but said the move to open its own outlets would offer it greater control over aspects such as procurement and promotions.

Intertel’s split from Virgin has paved the way for i2-CompuMe to take over the management of the IT sections at 14 Virgin stores in Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar and the UAE.

Virgin claims it instigated the change of partner and believes the appointment of i2 will lead to customers seeing a greater range of products and superior customer service at its outlets.

“Having a very strong and reputable name as i2-CompuMe being part of Virgin Megastore is very beneficial to our business,” said Toufic Eido, business development manager at Virgin Megastore Middle East.

“i2 will add to the client base of Virgin since the goodwill attached to it is known to all and is strong in the regions that we operate. At Virgin we are always working on improving the various aspects of our business by offering the best of everything and we just think that i2 is a better player in this field than Intertel and accordingly made the change,” said Eido.

Virgin Megastore Middle East is part of the Azadea Group, which last year signed a licensing agreement with Virgin Stores France to continue operating Virgin outlets in the region for another 13 years.

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