Ultimate Electronics Enters Northeast

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Leominster, Mass. - Ultimate Electronics, the Colorado-based A/V chain that was brought out of bankruptcy by investor Mark Wattles, has come to the East Coast.

 

The 34-store specialty retailer opened its first location here in Massachusetts last month, and plans to open its first store in New York state this June.

According to a report in the Fitchburg, Mass.-based Sentinel & Enterprise, the 33,000-square-foot Leominster store was a former Circuit City site that was chosen for its readily arranged long-term lease. President Jim Pearse, son of Ultimate Electronics' founder Bill Pearse, told the paper that the company plans to expand further into the Boston market but hasn't finalized its real estate plans.

Meanwhile, the Denver Business Journal reports that Ultimate has signed a lease for a second Circuit City site, this one outside Albany, N.Y., the state's capital. According to leasing agent Ken Brownell, a principal of Vanguard-Fine Retail Store Leasing, the 30,000-square-foot location is expected to open in May or June, and will be joined by sister stores in Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse, N.Y.

Indeed, a third report, in the Syracuse-based Post-Standard, indicated that an Ultimate Electronics store will assume another Circuit City vacancy in the city's Carousel Center mall, which also houses a Best Buy, RadioShack and Apple store.

Calls to Pearse and CEO Mark Wattles were not returned at post time.

Ultimate Electronics was founded in 1968 and at its peak in 2001 had more than 65 stores in 14 states. But rapid expansion, a difficult MIS changeover, unfavorable lease terms, oversized stores, the soft economy, and increased competition from Best Buy and Walmart eventually drove it into insolvency.

Wattles, who bought a controlling interest in the business and would later agitate for change at Circuit City, acquired Ultimate in a bankruptcy auction in 2005 and returned it to profitability within a year.

Since then the chain has added computers, major appliances and even billiard tables to its mix as it broadened its focus from big-screen TVs. The company operates 34 stores in 10 states in the Rocky Mountains, Midwest, Southwest and now the Northeast, and racked up $410 million in electronics sales in 2008, placing it 33

rd

on the TWICE Top 100 CE Retailers ranking last year.

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