Discovery Channel to close stores, focus on Web

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Discovery Communications is closings its mall-based and stand-alone Discovery Channel Stores to focus on its e-commerce platform and build partnerships with large retailers for its consumer products.

The move comes after the network experienced revenue losses in recent years. Discovery will explore avenues for sales through television by capitalizing on its global network reach. Discovery will close its 103 stores by the end of the third quarter of this year.

"This is what makes the most sense for us, given that we are a global media company and retail is not our core competency," said Michelle Russo, vice president of corporate affairs and communications, Discovery Communications Inc., Silver Spring, MD. "There is great demand in the marketplace for our products, so we will continue to sell them through our e-commerce store and retail partners."

Discovery's e-commerce operations, which include DiscoveryStore.com and partnerships with Amazon.com and eBay, posted a 144 percent increase in sales in 2006.

Discovery will continue its partnership with Hudson Group, which operates Discovery Channel Airport Stores, and its relationship with Toys "R" Us for Animal Planet. Discovery will also develop other long-term programs with key manufactuers to translate Discovery's content in other merchandising opportunities.

"We will continue to work with retail partners who will bring our products to more customers," Ms. Russo said.

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