Struggling Circuit City files for bankruptcy

Electronics retailer closed 155 stores last week, laid off 20% of staff

Electronics retailer Circuit City Stores Inc. today filed for bankruptcy protection in an effort to cut costs and turn around its deteriorating financial condition.

The company is trying to restructure its operations and reorganize its supply chain to cut costs and serve customers more efficiently, it said in a U.S. Bankruptcy Court filing. The company is also seeking bankruptcy protection in Canada.

As it restructures, the retailer hopes to operate stores normally and honor customer programs such as returns and exchanges, Circuit City said.

Close to 700 jobs are also being cut as part of the restructuring, the company said. Last week, it announced that it was shutting 155 stores in the U.S. and laying off 17% of its staff in an effort to preserve cash. In total, the company has now cut 20% of its staff.

The shutdown of stores has already begun and will last until inventory is cleared out. The company will operate 566 stores once the restructuring is complete.

Circuit City, which has retail stores in the U.S. and Canada, has gone through difficult times in recent months. In April, Blockbuster Inc. offered up to $1.33 billion to buy the retailer, subject to evaluation of its books. After resisting the move, Circuit City opened its books to Blockbuster as part of the due diligence process. After reviewing the books, Blockbuster pulled its offer, saying the acquisition wasn't in the company's best interest.

Circuit City joins other electronics retailers struggling to continue business operations. Late last year, CompUSA Inc. started shutting down retail stores after it was acquired by investment firm Gordon Brothers Group, which was looking to sell the company's business and assets. Systemax Inc., another computer retailer, ultimately acquired the assets of CompUSA for an undisclosed amount.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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