CE Retailers In Growth Mode

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NEW YORK –

While many CE dealers were retrenching last winter, others were clearly in expansion mode.

P.C Richard said in February it would open its first Philadelphiaarea stores this year and could add upwards of five Connecticut locations as part of a planned build-out that could extend its reach from Delaware to Massachusetts. Gregg Richard, president of the nation’s largest familyowned CE and appliance chain, said it accelerated its Connecticut timetable following the departure of regional retailer Bernie’s.

Meanwhile, Linder’s Furniture, the Southern California home furnishings and consumer electronics chain, opened its first superstore in February as part of a major expansion planned for this year, and a revitalized Ritz & Wolf Camera & Image continued to re-opened shuttered stores, added Verizon Wireless to an expanded CE offering, and secured a $25 million revolving credit facility to help refinance existing debt and fuel future growth.

Elsewhere, Paul’s TV was expanding its footprint exponentially with the opening of in-store shops at 31 Art Van furniture stores throughout Michigan; Nebraska Furniture Mart cut the ribbon on a completely remodeled 51,000-square-foot CE department at its Kansas City store; and Target began beefing up its CE business with the launch of its first store-based home services offering and announced plans for an upgrade of electronics departments in select stores.

Similarly, the Nationwide Marketing Group reported at its bi-annual buying show and conference that dealers are using the recession to their advantage by opening new stores and leveraging the buying group’s initiatives to position themselves for the eventual economic recovery.

“This is a great time to expand,” said executive VP Robert Weisner. “Dealers are picking up real estate from closed chains and are buying out competitors.”

Those acquired included Flanner’s Home Entertainment, which was bought out by Colder’s in July. But others, including iconic regional chains Bernie’s, Ken Crane’s and MyerEmco, would shut their doors for good.

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