November 11, 2009 / 3:34 PM / in 10 years

UPDATE 1-Best Buy to sell treadmills as well as TVs

* To sell health & fitness equipment in select markets

* Analyst sees move as a “stretch” (Adds company executive’s, analyst’s comments, byline)

By Dhanya Skariachan

NEW YORK, Nov 11 (Reuters) - Best Buy Co (BBY.N) began offering fitness equipment in select markets on Wednesday as the retailer tries to expand its wares beyond electronics.

“At first glance, it seems like a real stretch,” Anthony Chukumba at FTN Equity Capital Markets said by phone.

Now that music distribution has gone digital, Best Buy is looking to find ways to fill “the center of the store,” Chukumba said, adding that he did not see a synergy between electronics and exercise equipment.

“I suspect a lot of fitness equipment you plug in, but to me that’s pretty much the only real connection I can see to consumer electronics,” he said, adding Best Buy’s healthy balance sheet gave it the liberty to experiment.

But Best Buy spokesman Steve Trier said the fitness equipment was a natural for its customers who were trying to workout.

“We are looking at the things that technology can do for our customers,” Trier said. “This is just a natural migration for us. We don’t actually see this as a giant leap away from our core business.

The U.S. specialty retailer of consumer electronics, home office products and entertainment software declined to give any financial details on the new fitness offerings, but Trier said the products were “resonating really well with the busy mom.”

The retailer said the fitness gear is now available at Best Buy stores in Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Mexico and Texas.

Separately, Best Buy said it was committed to its expansion plans in Europe, amid speculation that it might put its store opening plans in the region on hold as its international chief retires. [ID:nN11359966] (Reporting by Dhanya Skariachan, editing by Gerald E. McCormick, Leslie Gevirtz)

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