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Ken Crane's Closes Four Of 10 Stores

1/13/2010 07:31:22 PM Eastern

UPDATED! Hawthorne,
Calif. - Los Angeles-area A/V specialty chain Ken Crane's has closed four of
its 10 stores in an effort to slash costs.

As part of the restructuring,
Steve Caldero has stepped down as senior VP/COO after five years with the premium
A/V dealer, which has been battered by the ailing Southern California housing
market and weak local economy.

Targeted stores
included the Buena Park, Laguna Hills, Long Beach and Ontario, Calif.,
locations, which were shut on Tues., Jan. 12.

The company said
the consolidation was designed to "reduce costs, streamline operations and
drive profitability," while allowing the company to continue serving all of its
current markets.

In a statement, CEO
Casey Crane noted, "Over the past 60 years, we have opened a total of 28
stores, and have closed or relocated over 20 of these stores for various
reasons.

"This decision was
not made lightly, and we sincerely regret the inconvenience, confusion and
hardship it may cause. However, we know this consolidation is necessary if we
are to remain a healthy and viable organization."

Executive VP Pam
Crane told TWICE in an email that "We are certainly not alone in having to
restructure ... in fact if you are not restructuring or cutting back in this
economic climate you are the exception in any industry, not just CE.

"We we will be a
leaner, healthier company," she added, "so that we can move forward and put [ourselves]
in a better position for future growth once the economy is moving again, especially
in California."

 The chain,
ranked 84th on TWICE's Top 100 Retailers Report, had CE sales of $52 million in
2008, which was flat year over year.

Ken Crane's was
founded in 1948 by Charles Kenneth Crane, who built the company around TV as a
Magnavox-exclusive dealer.

Crane eventually handed
off the family business to his son Casey, daughter Pam, and a third child,
Kenny, who sits on the board.

Caldero joined the
chain in 2005 as sales VP after 19 years with Yamaha, and was promoted 18
months later to senior VP/COO with responsibility for stores and merchandising.

The stores typically
carry 100 or more live home entertainment systems, many displayed within fully furnished
home vignettes, and provide custom-installation services within their affluent
Orange County trading area.

The PRO Group
dealer has no online sales function and maintains an information-only Web site.

The company said the
store closings will not impact any pending orders and that customers who placed
an order or purchased a product at any of the closed locations may have their
purchases delivered free of charge within the company's standard delivery area.
Pending orders are also available for pick up at any of Ken Crane's remaining showrooms.

The West Coast consolidation
follows last summer's closure of Anderson's TV, the Silicon Valley specialty
chain, which shut its doors after more than 32 years in business due to a
profit squeeze and cash drain.

Industry observers
are anticipating another challenging year for independent dealers amid severe
margin pressure, constrained capital, and the exhaustion of market share opportunities
from Circuit City's closure in 2009.

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