Columbia Delays Retail Connect21 Aug, 2003 By: Thomas K. Arnold
Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment's controversial Retail Connect program, which was supposed to start in October, has been delayed until March, studio executives said.
Marshall Forster, the studio's EVP for North America, said more time is needed before the studio can effectively switch over all its clients into a direct buying mode, using Ingram Entertainment and VPD as designated “sales agents” rather than traditional third-party distributors.“In order for us to do this, we need to be operationally sound and connected, and we're not there yet,” Forster said.
He won't go into specifics, but sources said that while 80 percent of VPD's clients have made the switch, fewer than 50 percent of Ingram's have signed up to buy direct. The holdup, sources said, is with drug and grocery stores. “Operationally, they are the most difficult to link into,” a source said. “We just need more time.”
Independent retailers, who haven't been happy with Columbia TriStar ever since the studio in the spring of 2002 informally unveiled plans to pare down its distribution network from five to two wholesalers as a prelude to direct sales, applaud the move.
“To me this is very good news,” said Tom Hannah, owner of Video Quest in Joliet, Ill. “This means that independent video retailers stood up and said no.”