Best Of Times, Worst Of Times For CE Dealers

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NEW YORK — Last year was truly a tale of two cities for CE dealers, given the topsy-turvy sales results on the TWICE Top 100.

Top earners on the retail rankings include Paul’s TV (No. 70 on the charts), which was up a whopping 75 percent in CE sales; Amazon.com (No. 8), which increased CE revenue by 40 percent; Seventh Avenue (No. 87), ahead 31 percent; Micro Center (No. 17), up 25 percent; and Systemax (No. 13), up by nearly 17 percent.

Conversely, companies taking it on the chin last year included Magnolia Audio Video (No. 77), down 46 percent; Ritz Camera (No. 37), off by 42 percent; Beach Trading Company (No. 45) and Game Crazy (No. 41), each down 25 percent; and BrandsMart USA (No. 30), down 24 percent.

On the plus side,

Paul’s TV

, the Southern California A/V specialty dealer, found new life inside furniture stores, where it’s busy opening up 3,000-squarefoot boutique shops as fast as it can build and supply them.

Amazon

continues to hone its winning formula of low prices, efficient service, a virtually limitless assortment, and shopat- home convenience, which proved to be an irresistible combination during the economic downturn.

Seventh Avenue

, a purveyor of lowpriced, commodity-oriented CE, also benefitted from the austere economic times, as well as its linkage to recently relaunched sister site Montgomery Ward (which is connected to the late, great department store chain in name only).

Micro Center

, the nation’s third-largest computer specialty chain behind Apple and CompUSA, opened its 22nd location last year and continues to reap the benefits of a customer-centric strategy, strong demand for netbooks, and an updated configuration within its stores.

For

Systemax

, the numbers reflect last year’s resurrection of Circuit City.com and the brick-and-mortar expansion of a re-engineered CompUSA.

Among the biggest losers,

Magnolia

was relieved of its wholly owned subsidiary status last year — along with its management, headquarters, distribution center and more than half its stores — after corporate parent Best Buy lost patience with its consecutive quarterly comp-sale declines.

Ritz

was bought out of bankruptcy last year by past and present principal David Ritz after shutting hundreds of stores and remerchandising the imaging assortment.

Internet retailer

Beach Trading

’s sales continued to fall back to earth in 2009 following several years of explosive growth and mounting e-commerce competition, while

Game Crazy

’s parent Music Gallery finally pulled the plug on the moneylosing operation after entering Chapter 11 twice in three years. Meanwhile, Florida- based

BrandsMart USA

continued to slog it out in one of the country’s most depressed housing markets.

Paul’s TV scored the largest sales gains by building CE shops in furniture stores.

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