New Orleans — As the Gulf Coast region slowly begins to recover from Hurricane Katrina, area retailers and distributors are reopening facilities and assessing the damage.
Here are the latest updates from several affected companies:
Best Buy: According to CEO Brad Anderson, 15 stores were initially affected and nine are currently operational. Four more stores are expected to open by the end of September, but two remain shut indefinitely. Anderson also lauded the heroism of store managers and district personnel who searched "shelter by shelter" to locate missing employees. All have since been accounted for.
BrandSource: Six dealers have been impacted, including one from BrandSource and five from the buying group’s Home Entertainment Source division, executives reported. One member lost his home and warehouse, although his store was spared, but the group has been unable to contact the other affected dealers for a more definitive status report.
Circuit City: Eleven superstores, employing a total of 457 staffers, were affected in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, the company reported. At press time, six stores remained closed and managers were working to establish contact with several dozen employees.
DSI Systems: The distributor’s Baton Rouge branch is back online after initially losing power and phone service, the company reported. The operation is conducting business as usual, and is donating TVs and free DirecTV service to various relief centers and shelters.
Sears Holdings: About 20 Sears and Kmart stores and facilities in Louisiana and Mississippi were damaged. The company said it expects the majority of any losses incurred to be covered by insurance.
Nationwide: Area members were hit hard, the group reported. Some dealers will have to rebuild stores, and most are hampered by limited phone service and lean staffing, given the difficulty of contacting employees. Among New Orleans dealers, Garey Alima’s A-1 Appliance has some operational stores but is still assessing damage, as is Kirshman’s, which has moved operations to one of its Baton Rouge facitlies. The buying group has also moved its PrimeTime! convention, originally slated for the Superdome this February, to the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas from Feb. 26-March 1, 2006.
Wal-Mart: Of the 126 facilities that were initially shut, 15 stores and warehouse clubs remain closed, including nine with major damage. The company has managed to contact 96 percent of the 34,000 employees displaced by the storm, all of whom are safe and/or have reported back to work.