Circuit City will remain an online-only business for the immediate future, according to Systemax, the IT supplier and retailer that acquired the bankrupt chain's brand and Internet business last month.
“It's too soon to say whether Circuit City stores will appear,” said Gilbert Fiorentino, chief executive of Systemax's technology products group, which also operates the company's CompUSA and TigerDirect businesses. “We've only owned it for two weeks, and we haven't figured out what to do with it yet.”
Nevertheless, Systemax is looking to grow its brick-and-mortar business from its current base of 29 CompUSA-branded stores. “We're looking at additional real estate,” he said. “It's an opportunity of a lifetime.”
Fiorentino wouldn't say how many storefronts or markets the company is considering, stating only, “I dream about lots of stores.”
Systemax acquired 16 CompUSA stores in 2008 and recently converted its existing 11 TigerDirect locations to the CompUSA nameplate. The company is also converting its entire store base to its new Retail 2.0 model, which provides Web access and unique descriptive content to all display TVs, computers and monitors. Remodeled stores have seen a 20 percent increase in conversion rates, he told an audience at a Consumer Electronics Association Line Shows event here last week, and the changeover should be completed by late summer.
The Systemax presentation was followed by a keynote by Aneesh Chopra, who was recently confirmed as the first White House chief technology officer. Chopra said President Obama's goal is “to harness the potential of technology innovation” to advance such key administration priorities as energy, education, healthcare and the economy.
Speaking on the eve of the DTV broadcast transition, Chopra acknowledged “some concern going into tomorrow,” but said the government is prepared with a call center and Web site. He added that the five-month delay cut the number of unprepared homes by half.