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.