JB Hi-Fi rebrands Network Neighborhood in education assault

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JB Hi-Fi rebrands Network Neighborhood in education assault

The JB Hi-Fi brand will become a fixture in the education market, with the company revealing plans to launch a BYOD notebook portal for parents under the well-known brand.

In an attempt to capitalise on JB Hi-Fi's brand recognition, the company has changed the name of its education business from Network Neighborhood to JB Hi-Fi Education Solutions.

The JB Hi-Fi brand will be used across the education business, said Network Neighborhood managing director Brett Armstrong - even the soon-to-be-launched BYOD portal will have the familiar yellow and black known to JB Hi-Fi shoppers.

"We probably didn't get the footprint we would have liked nationally [under the name Network Neighborhood]. We're finding the schools are more receptive to the JB Hi-Fi brand," Armstrong told CRN.

"The brand for us is a very strong brand and it's got a fantastic reputation. We're really leaning on the back of that, particularly when it's a parent-funded model when they don't have any exposure around [product] recommendation from a school."

While the company already had an education portal, it was open only to particular schools it was already dealing with, or where a school had chosen it as their preferred supplier. Now the portal will be available across the board.

The portal will comprise a structured component, where schools can promote a notebook package, as well as an unstructured sales channel for the general parent community. Telephone lines will also be setup.

"We're opening it up," Armstrong said. "Schools will recommend us that we have never dealt with before."

The new portal and name comes as the company steps up efforts to grow its education business outside of Victoria.

The company has started increasing its sales force outside of Victoria. It now has a presence in Western Australia, Queensland and New South Wales and is actively looking at increasing that reach.

"Big time" growth is coming from independent Catholic schools. "There's significant growth there for us in Victoria and outside Victoria," Armstrong said.

The name change comes amid a "notable" increase in parent-funded BYOD schemes, as opposed to programs funded by the schools themselves.

Armstrong said some schools are also extending their decision to support BYOD notebooks to a wider portion of the student population.

JB Hi-Fi's low-price brand should also appeal to the education market, said Armstrong.

"Absolutely. Money's tighter and they are looking at spending more wisely and we are that type of business that can offer a cheaper solution."

Despite the name change, Armstrong said there are no changes to the key vendors in its lineup. Key vendor partners include the likes of Lenovo, Apple, Acer and Dell.

The rebrand follows news late last year of a contract renewal with the Victorian government Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (DEECD). At the time, the company supplied 350 schools in the state.

News that JB Hi-Fi had taken full ownership of Network Neighborhood also came in December last year.

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