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CTHE Unveils Direct Sales Program

21 May, 2003 By: Joan Villa

After nearly a year in the works, Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment (CTHE) has finalized a sales program to make all retailers direct studio customers in what it calls a “revolutionary shift” in the traditional distribution model.

The new “Retail Connect” program will launch in the fall, using distributors VPD and Ingram Entertainment as CTHE agents performing sales functions, fulfilling orders and processing credit, invoicing, collections and returns, according to Marshall Forster, EVP for North America.

"Our decision to go direct with the CTHE Retail Connect program demonstrates our commitment to the retail customer base by assuming the risks closely associated with the traditional distribution system,” Forster said. “These include potential problems created by inventory management and collections.”

Eligible retail accounts will maintain a direct credit relationship with the studio and be offered direct participation in sales and marketing programs and access to timely new release information, Forster said. Direct customer communication will ensure that CTHE's sales and marketing support will be “efficient, immediate and timely,” he added.

To get new release titles streeting after Oct. 14 and catalog product after Sept. 22, retailers must submit a customer authorization form to Ingram or VPD. Only eligible, approved accounts will be able to carry CTHE in the fall, according to the studio.

"Our Retail Connect strategy is the next step in the evolution of our home entertainment business, which has grown significantly with the advent of DVD and sellthrough expansion,” said CTHE president Benjamin Feingold. “It will allow us to manage with our customers the various retail business models in a fair and responsible way consistent with our revenue growth objectives.”

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