By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
WASHINGTON — Best Buy unseated fellow consumer electronics retailer Circuit City as the overall No. 1 dollar-volume leader among U.S. specialty store chains, according to the National Retail Federation. Best Buy took the top spot with $15.3 billion in sales during 2000, a 22.7 percent increase over 1999. Circuit City fell to No. 3, primarily because it exited the major appliance business, while fellow big-box format retailer CompUSA held on to its No. 9 spot. Apparel retailers represent the largest group of specialty retailers in the top 100 ranking, with Gap No. 2 and the Limited and TJX also in the top 10. Office supply superstores Office Depot at No. 4, Staples at No. 6 and OfficeMax at No. 10 — despite recent retrenchment — were still able to generate enough sales to make the list.
TOKYO — Saddled with a $7 million operating loss in its overall electronics segment during its most recent quarter ended June 30, compared with income of $28 million in the segment in the same quarter in 2000, Sony now has taken a hit from Moody's Investors Service. The U.S.-based credit-rating agency has changed its outlook from stable to negative on Sony's Aa3-rated senior unsecured long-term debt. Moody's is taking into consideration its concern for Sony's ability to sustain past profit levels in its consumer electronics segment during the same period it is working to restore profitability to its game segment. Moody's cited the slowdown in world CE sales and pricing competition for their affect on a slowing sales of certain Sony products, and took notice of Sony's revised forecast for lower net profit and operating income for its current fiscal year.
SAN JOSE, CALIF. — High-speed wireless data company Metricom said it planned to shut down its Ricochet wireless data network operations in all of its 15 metropolitan markets. This followed a Chapter 11 filing early in July and an August bankruptcy court hearing, where company directors decided to cease operation of the network August 8, conduct an orderly wind down of the company's business and sell its technology assets. Nearly 300 jobs were lost. Claiming inability to raise capital in a depressed market, Metricom had already announced a 23 percent staff reduction in late June. The wireless data carrier had offered some retail distribution of wireless modems for use with laptops and personal digital assistants.
WESTBOROUGH, MASS. — The Arch Wireless Communications unit of paging and messaging services provider Arch Wireless has defaulted on a $1.3 billion bank credit line. The default came about when Arch Wireless Communications failed to make an interest payment due July 2 on $128 million of 12.75 percent senior notes, maturing in 2007. Arch said the default also constitutes a default under the unit's $125 million of 9.5 percent notes maturing in 2004 and $100 million of 14 percent notes maturing in 2004. The default also comes under the credit facility between Arch Wireless Holdings, an indirect wholly owned unit of Arch and a group of banks. Arch said Arch Wireless Communications has deferred the interest payment that was due August 1 on its 9.5 percent notes.
This TWICE webinar, hosted by senior editor Alan Wolf, will take a look at what may be the hottest CE products at retail that will be sold during the all-important fourth quarter. Top technologies, market strategies and industry trends will be discussed with industry analysts and executives.