CompUSA to shutter more than half its stores

CompUSA Inc. will close more than half of its retail computer and electronics stores in the next two to three months.

In a statement Tuesday, CompUSA said it would shutter 126 stores -- it currently operates 225 in the U.S. and Puerto Rico -- within 90 days as part of a massive restructuring first unveiled last Friday. The restructuring will rely on the store closings, as well as a US$400 million cash infusion and other expense reductions. CompUSA did not specify the source of the cash investment.

"Based on changing conditions in the consumer retail electronics market, the company identified the need to close and sell stores with low performance or nonstrategic, old store layouts and locations faced with market saturation," Roman Ross, CompUSA's CEO, said in a statement.

Dallas-based CompUSA is owned by Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim Helu through his Grupo Carso SA conglomerate, which took the retail chain private in 2000.

Earlier this month, rival Circuit City Stores Inc. announced that it also would close stores. Eight Circuit City stores and a distribution center will be shut in the U.S., while 62 will be closed in Canada. At the time, the Richmond, Va.-based company blamed tight margins, particularly in the flat-panel television segment, for its troubles.

Of the consumer electronics retail chains, one that seems to be weathering the storm is Best Buy Co. Inc. For the quarter ended Dec. 31, 2006, Richfield, Minn.-based Best Buy posted a 7 percent increase in comparable store revenue and a 15 percent boost in sales overall.