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Systemax Relaunches

PORT WASHINGTON, is back in business, albeit under the auspices of Systemax, the IT manufacturer and marketer that re-launched it during the Memorial Day weekend.

Systemax, which also operates Web sites and stores under the CompUSA and TigerDirect brands, acquired the trade names, domains and customer database of Circuit City’s online operations last month in a liquidation auction. The company paid $14 million in cash for the assets, plus a percentage of sales over the next 30 months totaling at least $3 million.

According to a preview video posted by Systemax retail chief executive Gilbert Fiorentino, the new offers consumers lower prices, special deals, a wider selection, same-day shipping and a better “24/7 customer-first” service department than its Richmond, Va.-based predecessor.

The new site also shares a similar design and assortment with its IT-oriented sister Web stores and, as well as common fulfillment functions. During recent visits, each home page was anchored by a sale-priced notebook or netbook computer, and each of the sites’ television sections highlighted LG’s 42LG50 42-inch, 1080p LCD TV for $799.

All three also carry new and refurbished inventory, plus the parent company’s Systemax-branded computers and Ultra memory and IT accessories.

“This acquisition and quick launch of the all new further solidifies Systemax’s position as a leader in online retailing of value-priced, branded computers and consumer electronics,” said Systemax chairman/CEO Richard Leeds. “Circuit City is one of the iconic brands in U.S. electronics retailing, with a 60-year legacy. With the longstanding leadership of our business and the growing contribution of our CompUSA business acquired last year, we think Systemax is uniquely positioned to best carry forward the great Circuit City brand in the online space.”

Systemax first sold its private-label lines direct to consumers via its TigerDirect catalog, stores and Web site. The company acquired the brand, trademarks and e-commerce business of CompUSA in January 2008 in a $30 million-deal that also included some 16 former CompUSA storefronts.

In other Circuit City news, a federal agency has assumed control of the bankrupt retailer’s pension plan.

The Pension Guaranty Corp. (PBGC), a national pension insurance program, became trustee of the plan last week.

The plan, which officially ended on March 31, covers more than 21,000 former employees, but will be abandoned after Circuit City’s assets are completely liquidated.

The plan is also underfunded by about 12 percent, although the PBGC said it will make up most of the $64 million shortfall.

The agency said it will take control of the plan’s $285 million in assets and use insurance funds to pay guaranteed benefits. Retirees and beneficiaries will continue to receive their monthly benefit checks without interruption, and other participants will receive their pensions when they are eligible to retire.