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New Downsized Ultimate To Stay The Course

Thornton, Colo. — In his first public announcement since acquiring 32 Ultimate Electronics and SoundTrack stores yesterday in a bankruptcy auction, owner Mark Wattles indicated that he will essentially stay the course with the regional A/V chain, albeit with a smaller and more manageable store base.

Plans call for the stores to remain substantially the same, apart from a buildup in inventory, his acquisition entity, Ultimate Acquisition Partners (UAP), said in a statement. The purchased stores are located in the metropolitan areas of Denver, Colorado Springs, Boulder and Ft. Collins, Colo.; Minneapolis; Las Vegas; Phoenix; Albuquerque, N.M.; Oklahoma City and Tulsa, Okla.; St. Louis, Mo.; and Wichita, Kan.

Substantially all employees at Ultimate Electronics’ corporate headquarters and in the 32 acquired stores will transfer to UAP, which is owned by Mark Wattles Enterprises, LLC, an investment vehicle that specializes in public and private companies within the consumer products and retail sectors. Wattles will serve as UAP’s chairman and CEO.

“In my opinion, [Ultimate’s] past financial problems were created by not being prepared for the executional challenges related to rapid store growth,” Wattles observed. “We now have a great management team experienced in high growth retail, a solid base of core stores and employees who are fanatics about audio/video. These ingredients, combined with the financial resources now available to Ultimate, set us up for long term success.”

Wattles recalled that he “fell in love with the Ultimate store concept the first time I toured the stores in Phoenix, Ariz. At the time, I lived in Oregon where there were no Ultimate stores. In 2000, after moving to Las Vegas, where there are two Ultimate Electronic stores, I learned as a customer what makes Ultimate Electronics and SoundTrack great. They are the experts in home entertainment with knowledgeable staff, great selection and competitive prices. These attributes converted me to a lifelong customer.”