Leap's Cricket expands national retail presence to Target stores

Cricket provider Leap Wireless (NASDAQ:LEAP) expanded its retail distribution to 1,600 Target stores nationwide, giving the flat-rate player another avenue to sell its service.

Leap Wireless Cricket ZTE Score Android

Leap's Cricket will begin selling the ZTE Score Android phone in Target locations across the country.

The carrier said that starting Sunday it will introduce its Muve Music and nationwide Cricket monthly voice products into Target stores. The company said its Muve Music service, which counts more than 500,000 subscribers, will be packaged with the $99.99 Samsung Vitality Android phone as well as the $69.99 ZTE Score Android phone.

Leap's expansion at Target is part of a major retail push the company began last year. The carrier announced last October that it would open another 200 Cricket-branded stores by the end of 2011. The company also said it planned to expand to 5,500 new national retail locations (such as Best Buy and Walmart) by the end of 2011, bringing Leap service to a total of 11,000 national retail locations by year-end.

Leap spokesman Greg Lund told FierceWireless that the company successfully executed on its 2011 retail expansion plans. "This year we plan to have 350 additional Cricket-branded stores and 6,000 new national retail doors, including Target," he said. "So, we expect more announcements as we move through the year."

Though Leap only operates a regional CDMA network, the carrier in 2010 inked an MVNO agreement with Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) that allowed it to begin selling Cricket-branded services across the country.

The announcement is also a win for Target, which will get another wireless carrier in its stores, and comes as other national retailers are experiencing difficulties. RadioShack has predicted a tough first quarter in its wireless retailing business, but hopes to rebound during the rest of the year. Best Buy, meanwhile, is closing down 50 big box stories and just saw its CEO, Brian Dunn, step down amid a probe into his personal conduct. At the same time, Best Buy said it would open another 100 Best Buy Mobile stores in the U.S. during its fiscal 2013. Best Buy said it continues to expect to have a total of 600 to 800 such stores by fiscal 2016, up from 305 currently.

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