Blue Label Telecoms and retail group Edcon will develop a network of retail technology stores across South Africa. Called Edgars Connect, the companies hope to have 100 outlets opened before the end of the year, with as many as 400 to follow in the long term.
The companies will invest R300m in rolling out the stores in the next 24 months. Blue Label holds 51% of the joint venture, with Edcon holding the remaining 49%.
Blue Label co-CEO Brett Levy said on Wednesday that Edgars Connect has come about as a result of the company’s R314m acquisition of Retail Mobile Credit Specialists (RMCS), which designs products and services that connect to Edcon’s backend systems. RMCS has been merged with another Blue Label company, The Prepaid Company, to create Blue Label Connect, which will work with Edgars to roll out the stores.
Levy said Edgars Connect stores will not be like traditional cellular retail outlets. “It’s a connect store: anything that can connect via a Sim card will be sold through these stores,” he said. This will include items such as drones and action cameras, in addition to the usual cellphones and tablets.
The stores will sell Vodacom, MTN, Cell C and Telkom Sims and provide hardware from companies such as Apple, Nokia, Samsung, HTC, Acer, Huawei, Asus, Dell, LG and Toshiba.
Levy said the joint venture will have access to all Edcon services, including their loyalty and cash cards. The companies intend launching a mobile money transfer service, too.
Blue Label has been working to launch into retail for the past six years. “We really wanted to get into the retail space. We wanted to be in the retail space directly to take all of our products and services and deal directly with consumers. It’s taken us a long time to find the right partner.”
The parties intend having 46 Edgars Connect stores open by the end of September.
But Levy said Blue Label’s retail plans are not limited to working through Edcon. “RCMS’s technology sat in the Edcon group, but because of Blue Label’s relationships, we are working with other retailers.”
He said that Edgars Connect is not a prelude to Blue Label launching a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO). “We work well with the networks and have designed a methodology to work with them, so to do our own MVNO is not necessary.” — © 2015 NewsCentral Media