Dodo Internet would look to put pressure on the telco big boys with an ambitious $60 million plan to open up to 60 retail stores across Australia branded 'Dodo World'.
In six weeks, the company planned to open its first retail shop in Werribee, West Melbourne, followed by a further three stores in Chapel St, Melbourne city, Highpoint in North Melbourne and Chadstone.
The stores will sell a range of configure-to-order PCs, PDAs, digital cameras, MP3 players and plasma and LCD TVs in conjunction with internet access packages.
All products will be sourced from local distributors Tech Pacific, Ingram Micro and Bluechip IT, according to Sean Cooray, Dodo's Melbourne-based sales manager.
Cooray said each store would cost around $1 million to set up and the company was hoping to open up to 60 stores around Australia over the next two years. Each store would be between 200m² and 400m².
All stores would be Dodo-owned and won't be run under a franchisee model, he confirmed.
Cooray claimed Dodo is now "a full telco" service provider following the launch of a mobile offering recently. The company uses Vodafone's infrastructure for mobiles and Comindico and AAPT for dialup and DSL services. "The products are bedded down really well - everyone knows us," said Cooray.
The company spends millions each year on TV and other forms of advertising. Cooray said the stores were an extension of the Dodo brand and go beyond just selling internet access and phone products. "We're moving from Dodo Internet to Dodo," he said.
The stores would also feature juice and coffee bars. The company has already had customer requests for Dodo T-shirts, hats, dolls and other merchandise, he said.
Cooray also claimed the company wanted to put pressure on the top ISPs, the likes of Telstra, Optus, Ozemail and AAPT with the new concept.
Dodo current sales revenue run rate hovers around $60 million per annum and the company was growing at five percent per month, Cooray said.
Hardware vendor Compaq trialled its own branded stores in Australia back in 2001 and failed.
Compaq pulled the plug on its 'Compaq Connect' store trial in April 2001, during turbulent times in the channel. These stores were intended to operate under a franchise model. Over a year earlier, when Compaq first announced its own branded store concept, it was given the boot by big retailer Harvey Norman.
Defunct PC maker Gateway also closed its local sales and marketing operations and stores in August 2001.