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Ultimate Electronics Targets California

Thornton, Colo. – Ultimate
Electronics is coming to California.

According to the company’s
website, the A/V specialty chain plans to open more than 10 stores each in the
Los Angeles and Sacramento markets.

The move follows the retailer’s
first East Coast forays this spring, in Massachusetts and New York State, which
took its store count to nearly three dozen.

The chain, which was brought out
of bankruptcy in 2005 by investor Mark Wattles, returned to “a state of growth”
last year, the company said. It plans to add at least three more stores each in
Massachusetts and New York, and is planning its first location in New

The entry into Southern
California would fill the void left by the liquidation of Ken Crane’s,
announced last week, while its Northern California build-out would follow last
year’s departures of Anderson’s TV and stand-alone Magnolia Audio Video stores.

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 35 stores in 10 states in
the Rocky Mountains, Midwest, Southwest and Northeast, and racked up $443 million
in electronics sales in 2009, an 8 percent increase year over year, placing it 29


on the TWICE Top 100 CE Retailers ranking.