“The news came as a massive shock to us and has probably come at the worst possible time for Sony,” CHIPS joint MD Don McCabe told MCV.
“It’s been a pleasure working with Kevin over the years. He’s been a good friend to retail and whoever replaces him will have a tough job filling his shoes. We’ll be hoping that that person will work as closely with us as Kevin did.”
Sony is remaining tight-lipped, offering simply a statement wishing Jowett well, and announcing that national sales manager Mark Howsen is now the acting sales director.
But the High Street is awash with speculation. In particular, retail is concerned that no trade prices have yet been set for PS3 hardware and software.
“Some think this is a cover-up to hide some unpleasant news,” one leading indie store owner – who preferred to remain anonymous – told MCV. “There is now a feeling that they are about to be shafted by a non-indie-sympathetic sales director.”
Meanwhile, further grumbles are emerging over Sony’s ambitious plans for in-store PS3 retail ‘experiences’.
Sony has asked retailers to install display areas featuring the console, PSP, HD-TV, surround sound systems and various items of Sony-branded furniture.
“This is probably something that comes from Sony central marketing that looks nice, but hasn’t really been practically considered,” one retail games buyer offered.
“Even the smaller versions won’t work with most retailers. I wish Sony had worked more closely with us.”
A Sony spokesperson responded: “We have come up with a very broad range of trade marketing ideas. These range from quite adventurous and innovative conceptual work through to much more traditional retail solutions.”