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Talk of the bay: TV retailer may flip the switch on bankruptcy

By Times Staff
Published May 12, 2007


Tweeter Home Entertainment Group, which operates four Sound Advice stores in the Tampa Bay area, said it may consider Chapter 11 bankruptcy this summer. That's one alternative the Canton, Mass., retailer could face if it runs too low on cash to complete a restructuring to close 49 of its 153 stores and lay off 20 percent of its work force by June. None of the stores being closed is in Florida. Tweeter joins consumer electronics chains Circuit City and CompUSA as big losers in the flat-screen and digital TV price war instigated last fall by Wal-Mart Stores Inc. Tweeter's projection TV sales dropped 44 percent and plasma screens fell 35 percent during the quarter, which was partially offset by a 72 percent increase in LCD sales.

Promises of perks often go unfulfilled

Corporate freebies - think frequent-flier miles or buy-nine-sandwiches-get-the 10th-free offers - are often shams meant to buy customer loyalty on the cheap, says Florida marketing professor Steven Shugan. "We found that companies most likely to promise these future rewards are the ones that are cutting their employees, " Shugan said. When airlines, hotels and sandwich shops pile up future debt through reward programs, they have an incentive to renege. Case in point: United Airlines. United went bankrupt in 2002 and didn't honor reams of customer frequent-flier points.

CCI a wreck, boss buys trailer park

Jesse Battle, president of bankrupt Construction Compliance Inc., with hundreds of furious customers, has borrowed nearly $11-million to buy Hollywood Trailer Park in St. Petersburg. One tidbit from Battle's bankruptcy hearing in Tampa this week: He said private-equity firm Holton Capital LLC will lend him money to buy the St. Petersburg trailer park at 72nd Avenue N and Fourth Street to build 190 apartments and townhomes. Battle needs to seal the deal. The sellers hold Battle's $500, 000 nonrefundable deposit, money the bankruptcy court is sniffing around to repay creditors. Battle said a May 25 closing on the property is "90 percent certain." Hundreds of creditors are watching.

Tribune business: It's inside news

Starting tomorrow, the Tampa Tribune's Sunday Business and Money section may require an extra moment to find. The paper's Sunday Business section will no longer have its own separate section but can be found, the Tribune said, "by turning to the back of the Commentary section."

[Last modified May 11, 2007, 23:11:09]

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