As it shrinks, CompUSA refocuses

Published May 23, 2007

DALLAS - CompUSA Inc., the electronics retailer that recently announced it would close more than half its stores, will attempt to rebuild by narrowing its focus on core customers including gadget lovers and small and medium businesses.

Chief Executive Roman Ross says the company would no longer try "to be everything to everyone."

The Dallas-based chain, controlled by Mexico's Grupo Carso SA, planned to announce the new strategy Tuesday.

CompUSA officials said the company plans to increase the number of products in some key growth areas to serve tech enthusiasts, professionals and businesses. It is testing a format in which part of the store would be specifically for small and medium business customers.

Officials said they would stock more products aimed at business users, including bringing back a commercial laser printer, a dot-matrix printer and point-of-sale machines. They plan to hold free seminars for small business owners in the stores.

Ross said the chain was moving away from its current, more general, approach to appeal to core customers.

"Our goal is not to be everything to everyone, " he said in a statement. "We're focusing our efforts on the customer base that best aligns with our clear value proposition."

CompUSA ran into trouble in the late 1990s as prices fell on its most important product, personal computers. The chain struggled against big-box competitors such as Best Buy Co. and Circuit City Stores Inc.

In February, CompUSA announced it would close 126 stores in the following three months and get a cash infusion of $440-million to restructure. The company plans to operate 103 stores in 39 states.