Gateway Borrows Page From Apple: To Revamp Stores With Help From Clothing Chain Exec

Gateway has borrowed a page from Apple, and is revamping its 192 retail store locations with the help of an exec from a clothing store chain. Bill Parker was brought on by the company in January of this year as "President and General Manager, Gateway stores." Mr. Parkeris previous job was senior vice president for Banana Republic, a clothing chain owned by The Gap, the same company who effectively supplied the executives who put together Appleis chain of retail stores.

Gateway is working on transforming itself into a sort of digital hub provider of PCs and consumer electronics; the company has added Plasma TVs and other assorted products to its Gateway-branded product line during the last 24 months. Along with the product line transformation also comes the new attempt to turn the Gateway Country Stores into a vehicle for selling those products. The Country Stores were originally designed as a demonstration showroom where users could see Gateway PCs, and order them in-store for delivery.

When Apple originally announced its own Apple Retail Stores, much was made of the problems Gateway had with its fleet of more than 300 stores. Many pundits glibly made pronouncements of doom for Apple before the stores actually opened, but Apple was able to learn from Gatewayis mistakes, just as Gateway is now learning from Appleis success.

At the same time Apple was opening its much more targeted and select locations, Gatewayis returning founder, Ted Waitt, was working hard to close more than 150 of its locations, including a round of 80 store closures earlier this year. Mr. Waitt seems to be happy with his progress, because, according to a Reuters report, almost all of the remaining 190 locations will be revamped. From the story:

Gateway Inc. has been burdened by a costly retail network, a loss-making personal computer business and critics who want to see it close the stores and focus like a laser on getting its flagship PC business back in shape. But Gateway Chairman and Chief Executive Ted Waitt refuses to fold what has recently been a losing hand.

Instead, Gateway Inc., the No. 4 U.S. PC maker that was once a Wall Street darling, is doubling down by investing more in its 192 stores and renovating all but four of them by the fourth quarter -- in time for the holiday shopping season.

"Iim confident that the direction weire going is the absolute right direction," Waitt told Reuters in an interview. Waitt is counting on the stores to help drive Gateway to becoming what he calls a "branded integrator," essentially marrying information technology and consumer electronics to sell products and services that are easy to use -- a strategy analysts call bold but risky.

The rest of the article takes a close look at the nature of the changes at both Gateway the company, and its retail stores, including information on Bill Parker. We recommend it as an interesting read.